CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Armando Bacot scored a pair of pivotal post baskets in the final 1:22 to help North Carolina secure an 81-75 victory over Syracuse at the Smith Center on Tuesday night.
In a game of runs, UNC (8-4, 3-2) punched last with a 10-2 spurt in the final three minutes to retake the lead. The Tar Heels made 8-of-9 free throws to close the game and win their third consecutive ACC contest.
UNC opened the second half on a 9-0 run, only to be countered by Syracuse’s 13-0 response. The Tar Heels matched the Orange with a 13-0 spurt of their own and several minutes later the visiting team orchestrated an 8-0 run to take a 68-67 lead with 3:21 to play.
UNC shot 39.7 percent from the floor, marking the third consecutive time it has failed to top the 40-percent threshold. The Orange shot 46.7 percent in 13 fewer attempts. UNC averaged 1.17 points per possession to Syracuse’s 1.09.
The Tar Heels outrebounded their opponent, 48-31. Their 18-10 assist-turnover differential was their largest of the season.
Owning the Paint
With starting center Bourama Sidibe still sidelined after damaging his meniscus in November, Jim Boeheim relied on 6-foot-10, 201-pound Marek Dolezaj to once again man the middle of his zone. UNC’s emphasis in pounding the ball down low yielded Garrison Brooks’s best performance of the season as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year notched his first double-double with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 10 rebounds.
Bacot (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Day’Ron Sharpe (8 points, 4 rebounds) were beneficiaries as well. The Tar Heels rebounded 53.3 percent of their misses and outscored the Orange, 24-4, in second-chance points.
Leaky Black Locks Down
Buddy Boeheim lit UNC up in the first half, scoring 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (4-of-7 3FG). Leaky Black (5 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists) ramped up his defensive effort after halftime and effectively shut Boeheim down, holding the Syracuse junior scoreless on three field goal attempts in 20 minutes.
Harris Close to Returning
The most intriguing development on Tuesday pertained to a player who didn’t actually play. Sophomore guard Anthony Harris dressed out for the first time this season, signaling a potential return in the coming days. The Woodbridge, Va. native has not played since tearing his ACL against Yale on Dec. 30, 2019.
Tweet of Note
UNC’s 24 offensive rebounds were its most against an ACC team since pulling down 24 against Pittsburgh on Feb. 25, 2017. https://t.co/PMXwBuRxFR
— Pat James (@patjames24) January 13, 2021
Late Half Collapse
The Tar Heels led 36-26 with 3:51 remaining in the first half when Williams implemented a four-man substitution, replacing Black-Davis-Sharpe-Brooks with Love-Platek-Bacot-Kessler alongside of Kerwin Walton. Syracuse took advantage with a 10-2 run over the next 2:05, scoring on four of its next five possessions.
The Orange closed the half on 14-4 run by making six of their final seven field goal attempts.
UNC heads to Tallahassee to play Florida State on Saturday, marking its fourth road trip in six ACC games. The Seminoles (5-2, 1-1 ACC) have lost two of their last three after winning four straight to open the season.