Carolina burnt Orange down the stretch

In a back-and-forth game of runs, North Carolina took a lead with three minutes to go and hung on by hitting eight free throws in a row to defeat Syracuse 81-75. (1/12) It was the third win in a row for the Tar Heels, who played some of their best basketball of the year as they went on long runs and survived outstanding Syracuse shooting. There was a stretch where Carolina missed 10 straight shots and the Orange took a five-point lead at 56-51 with 11 minutes left. But UNC freshman R.J. Davis started a 9-0 run with a side-step […]

In a back-and-forth game of runs, North Carolina took a lead with three minutes to go and hung on by hitting eight free throws in a row to defeat Syracuse 81-75. (1/12)

It was the third win in a row for the Tar Heels, who played some of their best basketball of the year as they went on long runs and survived outstanding Syracuse shooting.

There was a stretch where Carolina missed 10 straight shots and the Orange took a five-point lead at 56-51 with 11 minutes left.

But UNC freshman R.J. Davis started a 9-0 run with a side-step three from the right side and ended the run with a steal and layup that put the Heels up 60-56 and led to a Syracuse timeout.

After Carolina freshman Kerwin Walton drained a three, the Heels led 67-60 with 6:28 to go. But Syracuse, who had a 14-4 run in the first half and a 16-2 run earlier in the second half, had one more run in them.

An 8-0 Orange run over the next three minutes saw the visitors take a 68-67 lead with 3:21 to go.

Day’Ron Sharpe, yet another Carolina freshman, hit both ends of a one-and-one free-throw situation to give the Heels a 69-68 lead with three minutes to play. The Heels would never trail again.

A nifty Garrison Brooks to Leaky Black to Armando Bacot play put the Heels up 73-70 and resulted in Syracuse’s Quincy Guerrier, who led the Orange with 23 points, fouling out.

Bacot missed the free throw but Andrew Platek punched the ball out and Carolina kept possession to run the clock down toward the minute mark.

Buckets by Bacot inside and Platek on a fastbreak layup put Carolina in control at 77-70 with 42 seconds left. Davis and Black sank two free throws each in the last 21 seconds to wrap it up.

“I didn’t feel like we had any panic (down the stretch)…,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “All five of our (ACC) games have gone down to the last 30 seconds.”

Coach Williams credited Leaky Black, who he calls one of the best defenders in the ACC, with clamping down on Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim, who scored 18 points in the first half but none in the second half.

It was Boeheim vs. Brooks in the first half as Carolina’s senior had 14 points in the first half, which ended with a 40-40 tie.

Brooks led three Tar Heels in double figures with 16 points while Bacot scored 15 and Davis 12.

The Tar Heels, now 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference, play at Florida State Saturday. The Clemson game last Saturday was postponed due to a COVID problem within the Tigers program.

For a box score and more on the game, please click here.