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Syracuse's Upset Bid Comes Up Short in Loss to No. 5 UNC-Chapel Hill


 Three days after losing to No. 1 Duke, Syracuse (18-10, 9-6) fell to another ACC blue-blood, losing to No. 5 UNC-Chapel Hill (23-5, 13-2) 93-85 in the Dean Smith Center.

After a prolific first half start, Syracuse could not keep pace with the Tar Heels in the final 20 minutes. The Orange took a three point lead into the locker room at halftime, but a 50 point second half outburst from North Carolina proved to be too much.

The Orange only allows an average of 64 points per game, but the Syracuse defense performed better than Tuesday’s final score may have observers believe. UNC shot just 40 percent from the field and connected on just nine shots from beyond the ark. But, Syracuse was dominated on the glass, getting outrebounded 46-25, including allowing 18 Tar Heel offensive rebounds.

Offensively, Syracuse actually outshot the Heels connecting on 14 of 31 from three and shooting over 48 percent from the field. Tyus Battle once again led the way for Syracuse, scoring 29 to go with his five assists and five rebounds.

Elijah Hughes, and Oshae Brissett each hit five shots from the field to finish with 15 and 10 points respectively.  Frank Howard was the fourth Orange scorer to hit double digits, finishing with 11.

Free throw shooting once again plagued Syracuse. The Orange finished a paltry 13-23 from the charity stripe. Battle led the team, connecting on 11 of his 14 free throw attempts, but Hughes and Brissett combined to miss all seven foul shots they attempted.

On the flip side, Syracuse committed 26 personal fouls, including 14 in the first half. The Tar Heels made them pay, converting on 34 of their 37 free throw attempts. Syracuse foul trouble likely kept North Carolina in the game in the first half which saw the Heels shoot just 10 of 27 from the field. The foul disparity did not go unoticed by Jim Boeheim who had a chat with the officials at the conclusion of the first half.

Jim Boeheim was frustrated by the free throw disparity between the Tar Heels and Orange on Tuesday night.

Freshman Coby White led the way for the North Carolina, finishing with a career-high 34 points, including a flawless 10-10 from the foul line. White became the first Tar Heel to register three 30-point performances in their freshman season. North Carolina’s leading scorer entering Tuesday's matchup, senior Cam Johnson, matched his season average adding 16 points of his own.

It was UNC’s fourth consecutive win, helping them keep pace at the top of the ACC standings. With Tuesday’s victory the Tar Heels took a half-game lead over Virginia for first place in the conference. UVA was idle on Tuesday but will host lowly Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.

As for Syracuse, the Orange will play their third consecutive game against a conference foe from the state of North Carolina. The Orange will be back on Tobacco Road to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Saturday at noon before returning home for a matchup against No. 3 Virginia on March 4.