UNC Basketball: Tar Heels spoil the Orange on the road

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 21: Tyus Battle /

North Carolina, Syracuse draw big crowd for inter-conference matchup

How does a team win six in a row?

Well according to ESPN’s Dan Dakich, “big possums walk late”. In other words, the good teams find ways to win when things get tough, and that’s exactly what the Tar Heels did on the road against Syracuse.

So what happened to help UNC get the 78-74 win against the Orangemen?

The Game

In the first half, North Carolina attacked the daunting Syracuse zone early and often. This led to a nine-point halftime lead thanks to a Tar Heel offense that lived off the assist. North Carolina had 14 assists on its 16 made shots.

They also played good defense against the Orange. The trio of Frank Howard, Tyus Battle, and Oshae Brissett have combined to score 72 percent of Syracuse’s points this season. In the first half, they were held to a combined 7-of-24 shooting.

North Carolina also got some big minutes from its bench early as Sterling Manley and Andrew Platek combined for 13 points.


The Tar Heels looked to blow the game away in the second half behind the stellar play of Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II. However, Syracuse wouldn’t fade easily into the cold, dark night.

With the Orange trailing by eight with just under five minutes to go, they switched to a full court press. Though the Tar Heels had no trouble breaking the press, it sped them up and led to quick shots and turnovers.

This allowed the Orange to get back in the game and tie it up with just a little over three minutes to go. Luckily for the Tar Heels, they had Berry.

Berry scored the final four points, a layup off of a steal and two clutch free throws, for the Tar Heels who held Syracuse scoreless for the final three minutes to help North Carolina get its 11th conference win on the season.

Player of the Game

Theo Pinson. Pinson had the game of his career. Pinson finished with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 2-for-2 from behind the arc.

He was also the maestro of the offense. Playing the middle of the zone, he was the facilitator finishing with a game-high seven assists. He also had six rebounds and three steals for another Pinson-like game.

What’s Next?

Up next for the Tar Heels is a long overdue break as UNC is off this weekend. The Tar Heels’ next game is at home against Miami on Tuesday, February 27th.