Avenging 36-point loss to North Carolina, Syracuse chokes Tar Heels in rematch

Syracuse, NY – Avenging a 36-point loss to North Carolina on Tuesday night with a shocking 86-79 victory over the seventh-ranked Tar Heels at the JMA Wireless Dome.

In a January 13 game in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Dean E. The Tar Heels cruised to an easy 103-67 victory at the Smith Center. It was Syracuse's biggest loss since a 108-69 loss to DePaul in the 2006 season.

Syracuse got its revenge on Tuesday.

The Orange held the Tar Heels to 79 points, using a 2-3 zone defense to force North Carolina out of its typical offense.

It was Syracuse's first win against a Top 10 team since a 95-91 overtime victory over No. 1 Duke on Jan. 14, 2019, and Syracuse players celebrated as fans stormed the field in the final buzzer.

It was the fourth win in 17 games against the Tar Heels since the Orange joined the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season.

The win improved their record to 16-9 on the season and 7-7 in the ACC. North Carolina fell to 19-6 overall and 11-3 in the conference.

Syracuse made a season-high 63% of its field-goal attempts, connecting on 30 of 48 shots from the floor. The Orange made eight of its 17 3-point attempts.

Syracuse guards Judah Mintz and JJ Starling both played the entire game. Mintz led the Orange with 25 points, while Starling had 23.

Starling accidentally hit one of the biggest shots of the game. RJ Davis' conversion gave North Carolina a 65-64 lead with 7:17 left.

Starling banked in a 3-pointer to put the Orange back on top. Starling lost the ball and thought time was running out on the shot clock. He launched a 28-footer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock and was all smiles down the stretch after banking it for a 67-65 lead.

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Syracuse led 76-72 with 1:37 to play when Chris Bell recovered his own foul. The ball went to SU center Malik Brown in the paint, who was fouled by UNC's Cormac Ryan. The officials reviewed the play for a possible flagrant foul on Ryan. It was ruled a foul and Brown went 1-for-2 for a 77-72 lead.

Quader Copeland then forced a turnover by UNC's Harrison Ingram. The Tar Heels fouled to send Brown to the free-throw line, where he made two free throws with 1:07 left to extend the lead to 79-72.

Syracuse was without Peter Carey for the second straight game. The redshirt freshman center is in the concussion protocol, according to a statement made by the university before the game. Gary suffered the injury during practice last Friday. He also missed SU's game against Clemson last Saturday.

Just like in the first half, Syracuse got off to a quick start to start the second half. The Orange went on a 10-1 run in the first four minutes after halftime to take a 52-43 lead. The Tar Heels missed their first seven shots of the half.

North Carolina began attacking SU's zone defense with more precision, getting 3-pointers from guards RJ Davis and Elliott Cato and then finding center Armando Bagot. Bagot's dunk off a pass from Caddo cut SU's lead to 56-53 with just over 12 minutes left in the game.

In the first half, Syracuse executed its offense like it had all season. The Orange made 17 of 27 field-goal attempts (63%) in the opening 20 minutes to tie the Tar Heels at 42.

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Syracuse led by 10 points at the half. But after getting up 30-20, Syracuse went flat for the next five minutes, allowing North Carolina to go on a 17-4 run. Harrison Ingram's 3-pointer gave the Tar Heels a 37-34 lead.

Syracuse jumped out to an early 23-13 lead thanks to some great offensive play and a switch to familiar defense. The Orange started by hitting nine of its first 13 field-goal attempts, including a pair of 3-pointers by Brown. The sophomore center went 4-for-14 on 3-pointers.

After the Orange started the game in its man-to-man defense, it switched to a 2-3 zone favored by former SU coach Jim Boeheim. The Tar Heels made just one of their first five attempts from the 3-point line.

North Carolina finally found cracks in the zone and started making its 3-point attempts. The Tar Heels finished the half hitting six of their last eight shots from beyond the 3-point line.

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