UNC, with heavy hearts, wears out Syracuse

The UNC players wore “Woody” on the back of their warmups and then went and wore out Syracuse 78-59 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. (3/7) On a day that Tar Heel Nation was mourning the loss of former legendary play-by-play radio announcer Woody Durham, Carolina took care of Syracuse in a game that UNC coach Roy Williams said might have been the team’s best effort of the year. “Defensively, it was one of our best games of the year if not the best,” Coach Williams said despite Syracuse hitting five of its first six three-point […]

The UNC players wore “Woody” on the back of their warmups and then went and wore out Syracuse 78-59 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Brooklyn, New York. (3/7)

On a day that Tar Heel Nation was mourning the loss of former legendary play-by-play radio announcer Woody Durham, Carolina took care of Syracuse in a game that UNC coach Roy Williams said might have been the team’s best effort of the year.

“Defensively, it was one of our best games of the year if not the best,” Coach Williams said despite Syracuse hitting five of its first six three-point shots.

The Orange stayed in the game with seven three pointers in the first half – this one day after going only four of 17 from the three-point line in the entire game against Wake Forest. Still, Carolina was in control of the game at the half, 39-29.

The Tar Heels upped the margin to 15 early in the second half on a three-pointer by Joel Berry and then to 18 on a three by Kenny Williams from the right corner that made it 51-33.

A brisk-moving fastbreak where four Tar Heels touched the ball on the way up the court ended with a Cam Johnson layup that gave Carolina its biggest margin of the game at 56-35. But then the Tar Heels hit a lull.

Carolina went without a basket for more than six minutes as Syracuse cut into the deficit getting within nine points with just over four minutes to play.

But the Tar Heels ended the game on a 12-2 run that completed a number of long passes that ended in fastbreak baskets.

Williams, who was the recipient of three long passes for buckets in last six minutes, led four Tar Heels in double figures with 17 points to go along with three steals. Senior Theo Pinson scored 16 points and hauled in 11 rebounds while Johnson and Luke Maye added 13 points.

“In the second half we did a better job guarding the three,” Coach Williams said, noting that while Syracuse was 7 of 13 from three in the first half, the Orange was just one of 10 in the second. “Or maybe they were tired.”

Offensively, Carolina was able to do enough to penetrate the Syracuse zone or get the ball up court before Syracuse could set up the defense.

The Tar Heels, now 23-9 overall, play Miami, the team that just ruined Carolina’s Senior Night, in the ACC Tournament’s quarterfinals Thursday at 9 p.m. Syracuse, 20-11, have to wait and hope they did enough to make it to the NCAA Tournament.

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