Jeremy Brevard - USA Today Sports
Well so much for this team putting it all together, and winning the ACC Tournament. Syracuse won the opening tip, and from there proceeded to blow out North Carolina, 81-53 in the second round of the 2020 ACC Tournament. After last night’s win over Virginia Tech, there was reason to believe that this team would make a deep run in Greensboro. The matchup with Syracuse was a favorable one, we believed considering less than two weeks ago, Carolina won 92-79 at Syracuse. None of that mattered tonight, as Syracuse was simply the better team. The Orange were led by Elijah Hughes, and his 27 points. Hughes entered with a chip on his shoulder, after being snubbed on some All-ACC teams earlier this week. He was the best player on the floor tonight from the onset. Hughes was one of four Orange players to reach double figures scoring, as they were the offensive juggernaut they are capable of being.
In a season full of forgettable performances, this one may top the list. Carolina shot just 33% from the field, and were only 2-16 from behind the three point line. It was night and day from the offensive performance. Garrison Brooks was the leading scorer, with 18 points on 7-14 shooting. Leaky Black added 14 points, and he was the only other player in double figures scoring. They never gave themselves a chance, with their poor shot selection, and careless turnovers. For the game, the Tar Heels turned it over 18 times, which became 27 points for Syracuse. This team didn’t look the same team that scored 92 a few weeks ago in the Carrier Dome. The zone appeared to suffocate the Carolina offense, and confused even the veteran players.
This season that didn’t go as anyone thought or expected, this was a fitting way for it to end right? With the NCAA tournament being played without fans, and possibly on the verge of being cancelled due to the coronavirus,, not qualifying lessens the blow a little bit. While you feel bad for the seniors, they deserve some blame as well. Here’s what went wrong in the season finale:
1. Lack of Urgency: Roy Williams mentions this all the time, and it didn’t get through his players heads tonight. Syracuse won the opening tip, and instantly got a layup, because Carolina didn’t run back. That was a sign for things to come for the next 40 minutes of game action. The game meant more to Syracuse. Everything they did, they did with a purpose, while Carolina was simply going through the motions. As we were reminded many of times, this team wasn’t good enough to win when they weren’t fully committed.
2. Couldn’t Stop Hughes: It didn’t matter who checked Hughes, he was going to get his points regardless. After being snubbed in terms of ACC awards, Hughes sent a message that he is one of the league’s best players. He scored 27 points, and did so in a variety of ways. He also was a force on the backboards, grabbing 7 rebounds. His impact on both ends was felt, as he helped his team end a nine game losing streak to Carolina.
3. Inefficient Offense: After scoring at least 78 or more in 4 of the final 5, they only scored 53 and that was a struggle. They shot a season worst 26% in the first half, and for the game they shot 33%. In the first half all of their points came from either inside the paint or at the foul line. Syracuse took away the middle of the zone, and made them settle for contested jump shots. After showing the ability to make outside shots in recent weeks, their shooting woes resurfaced in a lopsided loss.
Up Next: This season is over, and we’re now in off-season mode. We’ll be awaiting the decisions of guys such as Garrison Brooks and Cole Anthony, as they both have to decide if they want to return to school, or leave for the NBA. The next time we’ll see Carolina on the basketball court in front of fans will be Late Nite with Roy next fall.