The Tar Heels up and down season continued tonight, this time in a negative way, as Syracuse topped Carolina 72-70 in the Carrier Dome. Coming off Saturday’s upset of Florida State, the question around the team was how would they handle success. The answer was not good, after jumping out to an 11-2 lead, Syracuse rallied to lead 34-28 at halftime. In the second half, Carolina wasn’t able to mount a comeback like they did on Saturday, after falling behind as many as 14 points. A ferocious rally in the final minutes wasn’t enough, as UNC finished their ACC road campaign at just 3-6.
Despite out rebounding the Orange 53-33, Carolina couldn’t overcome another abysmal shooting performance, as the team shot just 38% from the field, and 20% from behind the three point line. While they held Syracuse to 41% shooting, they allowed 8 made triples which was seemingly the difference in the game. Armando Bacot was the best player on the floor for UNC, as he led the Tar Heel with 18 points and 15 rebounds. He was one of three starters to reach double figures tonight.
Tonight’s loss may not knock UNC out of the NCAA Tournament, but it did eliminate any chances of securing a double bye in next week's ACC Tournament, thus making it difficult to improve their positioning for the Big Dance. Here’s the fallout from another disappointing loss this season:
3 Point Defense: While they only allowed 30% shooting from behind the arc, they allowed Buddy Boeheim, Syracuse’s sniper to connect on 6-13 treys. Every three pointer felt like a stab to the heart, as the Orange worked themselves back into the game in the first half. After being able to shut down the son of the Hall of Fame coach back in January, Carolina was unable to do so tonight, and it effectively lost them the game.
Turnovers: To go along with their poor shooting performance, turnovers were once again a problem tonight, as they committed 20 of them. Syracuse was able to score 28 points off the Tar Heels miscues, compared to just 9 points for UNC off of Syracuse turnovers. In the last three games, the Tar Heels have committed 60 turnovers.
Free Throws: After going 27-30 from the foul line on Saturday, including hitting their final 18, Carolina went 14-22 from the charity stripe tonight. It’s hard to win games on the road in this conference when you play well, but it’s even harder to do so when you shoot poorly from the field and the foul line.
Armando Bacot: The lone bright spot from tonight’s defeat, was the play of Armando Bacot, who kept Carolina in the game with his fifth double-double this season. He scored 18 points on 7-10 shooting, and of his 15 rebounds, 8 were offensive.
Up Next: The regular season will wrap up on Saturday, as Duke will visit Chapel Hill as the greatest rivalry in sports will write a new chapter. This game will be a virtual play into the NCAA Tournament. ESPN will have coverage, starting at 6 pm.