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Heel Tough Blog: Syracuse Recap

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

After losing 7 straight games, Carolina was won back to back for the first time since January. In the process they also handed a team that’s playing for the right to participate in the NCAA tournament, a devastating loss. Garrison Brooks shines with 26 points, and 14 rebounds in the 92-79 win at Syracuse. Coke Anthony added 23 points, while converting on 7 made three pointers. The 7 game losing streak, ironically started when Anthony returned from his injury. The Tar Heels struggled to adapt to his play, but in the last two games they’ve appeared how to play with the freshman phenom. Christian Keeling continued his great play, scoring 18 points off the bench. Keeling did leave the game with an injury, and if there’s one thing this team can afford, it’s another injury.

The Tar Heels used a 20-2 run in the first half to it only take the lead, but control of the contest. While Syracuse did make runs, every time Carolina had an answer. A couple of weeks ago, this team may have folded but with refound confidence, that didn’t happen. For the game, Carolina shot 52%, as Roy Williams continues to prove to be the better zone offense coach in the country. Not only did they shoot well from the field, they also connected on 11 triples, Addis’s a dimension to this offense they desperately needed. With Garrison Brooks bringing in 14 boards, it paced a team effort to out-rebounding the Orange 39-29. Add in the 25 assists, and you can make the argument this was the best we’ve seen the Heels play, with Anthony on the court all season.

It may be too little late for this team, but it’s refreshing to see them not only winning, but having fun. They also are now being rewarded from the progress they’ve made both individually, and as a team. 3 takeaways from the road win in New York:

  1. Team Offense: The biggest criticism of Cole Anthony, has been he doesn’t play team basketball. In the last two games, he begs to differ. Anthony has improved shot selection, and has started differing to his teammates. That led to him having 7 assists, a team high. The Tar Heels made 33 shots, 25 of them were assisted. Those are the type of numbers you usually see from a Roy Williams coached team. They’ve also scored at least 40 points, in 4 consecutive halves, for the first time all season long. They look like a team, that when they play like a team is more than capable of playing with any team in the country.

  2. Brooks’ Beasting: If Carolina didn’t have the record they have, Brooks would be a All-ACC or even All-American candidate. Syracuse simply didn’t have any answer for the junior, as he controlled both ends of the floor. We’ve now reached the point that his 26 point, 14 rebound performance isn’t a surprise, we’ve grown to expect that type of production. He was also 8-8 from the foul line, continuing to display improvement in that area.

  3. Three Point Defense: An issue for this team at times, it wasn’t an issue in this contest. The Orange only connected on 6-24 from deep. While they don’t have great numbers on the season shooting the long ball, with Gus like Buddy Boeheim & Elijah Hughes they were more than capable of heating up from deep. As much as Carolina has improved offensively, they winning wasn’t going to start until they became better defensively. We’ve seen that over the last two games, which is why they’ve won both of them.

Up Next: It’s Senior Night for the Carolina program on Tuesday, when they host an all important game against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons ran the Tar Heels off the bench a few weeks ago, and this game has a lot on the line in terms of seeding in the ACC tournament. That’ll happen Tuesday night, at 7 on ACC Network.

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