North Carolina’s long-range barrage sinks Syracuse, 92-79
Freshman guard Cole Anthony hit a season-high seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points, Garrison Brooks added 26 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, and North Carolina beat Syracuse 92-79 on Saturday.
The victory for the Tar Heels (12-17, 5-13 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a modest two-game winning streak by the Orange (16-13, 9-9) and put a serious damper on their postseason chances.
The Tar Heels, who ended a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday night with an 85-79 victory over North Carolina State after an awful start, broke open a tight game by hitting six 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half.
Anthony hit three of them, Brandon Robinson had two and reserve Christian Keeling’s at 14:00 boosted the lead to 64-48. North Carolina, which entered the game shooting 28% from 3, finished 11 of 26 from long range and outscored the Orange 22-10 on second-chance points.
Keeling continued his recent strong play with 18 points for UNC, which hit 9 of 14 from the arc in the second half after going 2 of 12 in the first.
Bourama Sidibe had 17 points and 15 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season, and Buddy Boeheim had 22 points to lead Syracuse. Elijah Hughes, the ACC’s leading scorer, finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting and freshman point guard Joe Girard had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting for the Orange.
In his previous five games, Buddy Boeheim had shot 6 of 28 from deep, and had been held scoreless twice in 47 minutes of play in two of the previous four games. Boeheim, who was dealing with an ankle sprain suffered in a win at Pitt on Wednesday night, was 9 of 17 from the field.
It was the men’s final game in the Carrier Dome, which will close for renovations after Sunday’s women’s basketball game.
North Carolina scored 16 straight points after Sidibe’s slam tied the game at 17-all midway through the first half. Brooks started the spurt by converting a lob, Keeling and Anthony each scored six, and Keeling’s jumper gave the Tar Heels a 33-17 lead with 5:17 left.
Held scoreless for just over six minutes, Syracuse responded with an 11-0 run. Buddy Boeheim scored seven points and a pair of free throws by Hughes narrowed the deficit to 33-28 with 2:37 left as the Tar Heels went to the break with a 40-35 lead.
The No. 44 jersey of former Syracuse star John Wallace was retired during a halftime ceremony. He joins 14 other players to be so honored. Wallace, who led the Orange in scoring (22.2) and rebounding (8.4) as a senior in 1995-96, led the team to the national championship game against Kentucky, but the Wildcats prevailed 76-67. He finished his career with 2,119 points, third all-time at the school.
“Today’s not just about me,” Wallace said. “It’s about the people who helped me get here.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, teammate Julian Edelman and comedian Jimmy Fallon were seated courtside next to the Syracuse bench. Brady, who played college ball at Michigan, helped the Wolverines beat the Orange 18-13 in the Carrier Dome in 1999, a year after Donovan McNabb and the Orange won by 10 in the Big House. Fallon received a huge ovation and bowed to the crowd in appreciation before tipoff.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament if they don’t win the conference tournament. In his 17 seasons as head coach, Roy Williams’ longest losing streak before this year’s seven-game skid was four games in 2009-10.
Syracuse: The Orange entered the game tied for fifth in the ACC with Notre Dame and have two regular-season games left, both on the road, but the loss to the Tar Heels was critical to any postseason chances. The Orange had been pointed in the right direction after a five-game winning streak, but they followed that January surge with six losses in seven games, three by five points or fewer and the lone win by two points before winning the previous two.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels host Wake Forest on Tuesday night and finish the regular season next Saturday at No. 7 Duke.
Syracuse: The Orange close the regular season with road games against Boston College on Tuesday night and Miami next Saturday.