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Youth movement shows promise as SU men's basketball prepares for UNC

Maliq Brown (Orange) goes up for a slam against Georgia Tech. The freshman had a career high 18 points in the win.
@Cuse_MBB on Twitter
Maliq Brown (Orange) goes up for a slam against Georgia Tech. The freshman had a career high 18 points in the win.

The North Carolina Tar Heels have experienced a rocky road so far this season.

After falling short in the national championship game against Kansas last season — the first for head coach Hubert Davis, the attempt to avenge last year’s three-point championship loss has not gotten off to a good start.

Jim Boeheim’s squad will take on UNC for the first time this season Tuesday night. Boeheim is 0-1 against the Tar Heels in the Davis era. SU last played UNC on Feb. 28, 2022 — where the Orange fell by eight points, despite a 36-point performance by Cole Swider.

North Carolina (14-6 Overall, 6-3 Atlantic Coast) comes into Tuesday night 1-4 in road matchups. The Tar Heels defeated North Carolina State at home 80-69 Saturday afternoon.

It was a historic game for center Armando Bacot. The senior recorded his 61st career double-double, breaking the school record. Bacot then broke the school career rebounding record. Bacot scored 23 points and recorded 18 rebounds.

"I think now it is starting to sink in, and to greet Tyler Hansbrough after just meant everything to me,” Bacot said. "Growing up, seeing how great of a player he was, not just at UNC, but just in college in general, he is one of the greatest players of all time. To be able to pass him just means a lot."

“He's a fantastic player,” head coach Hubert Davis said about Bacot. "He's one of the best players in Carolina history and I'm just really really proud."

Bacot leads his team in points, field goals, rebounds, and blocks, and he also leads the ACC in rebounds, along with being fourth in the conference in points.

Guard RJ Davis has also been stellar from a scoring aspect for the Tar Heels, with an average of 16.8 points per game. Junior guard Caleb Love is averaging 16.3 points per contest.

The ‘Cuse comes off a 80-63 win against Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon. Syracuse guard Joe Girard III scored 28 points in the win, three points lower than his career-high against Richmond earlier this season. Girard shot 60% from three-point range, going six for ten from beyond the arc.

Syracuse forced 16 Georgia Tech turnovers, only committing eight giveaways in comparison. The turnovers resulted in 24 points for SU.

The Orange are looking to capitalize on recent stellar performances from their freshmen. Maliq Brown scored a career-high 18 points, shooting 89% from the field against the Yellow Jackets. Judah Mintz also scored 13 points and only committed one turnover after a rough performance against Miami last Monday.

Brown also recorded four rebounds — something Boeheim pointed out following Saturday’s game. The forward has had an impressive stretch over the last few games, scoring 15 points against Notre Dame, eleven against Virginia Tech and ten against Virginia.

“Maliq was really offensively, he didn’t do the usual rebounding job he does,” Boeheim said.

The head coach also had some praise for Syracuse guard Quadir Copeland. The Philadelphia native played more Saturday than he’s played all season, staying out on the floor for 17 minutes.

“Quadir has been really good in practice,” Boeheim said. “I thought he could do something against them. He just really goes after balls.”

Our coverage for Tuesday night’s 9 p.m. game on WAER begins at 8:30 p.m. with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff.