Syracuse men’s basketball tries to get back in the win column against No. 7 North Carolina on Tuesday
Syracuse men’s basketball (15-9, 6-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces off against No. 7 North Carolina (19-5, 11-2 ACC) at 7 on Tuesday. SU, which comes off a 77-68 defeat to Clemson on Saturday, fell to UNC 103-67 earlier this season in what still qualifies as its biggest loss of the year.
"I thought today's game, from the beginning, North Carolina was the tougher team,” Orange Head Coach Adrian Autry said following the defeat to the Tar Heels on January 13. “They jumped on us and kept the pressure up. They were really good defensively.”
Since its loss to UNC, Syracuse has gone 4-4 overall, with wins over Pittsburgh, Miami, NC State, and Louisville and losses to Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, and Clemson. Despite his team’s recent struggles, Coach Autry believed his squad’s last loss was a winnable game.
“I think it's all us,” Autry said. “That's the most frustrating thing. This game was us, the last 4 minutes. We did what we needed to do to get back into the game and then the last 4 minutes we didn't do what we needed to do to win.”
While Syracuse has struggled recently, its next opponent has faced similar problems. North Carolina has dropped two of its last four including an 80-76 defeat to Clemson last Tuesday. UNC also fell to Georgia Tech a week earlier, marking just the second time Head Coach Hubert Davis’ team has lost multiple times in a four-game stretch this year. The Tar Heels’ leader believes his squad’s mentality is a reason to blame for the struggles.
“There's nothing from a basketball standpoint we can talk about until the energy and the effort and enthusiasm rises, and if that would rise and things would change then we can start talking about basketball,” Davis said after his team’s loss to Clemson.
Despite UNC’s recent struggles, the team has excelled in many places where Syracuse has weak points. North Carolina ranks 7th in the country in rebounds per game, whereas Syracuse clocks in at 218. The Orange were out-rebounded by 23 and allowed 19 offensive boards in their loss to the Tar Heels in January. Davis pointed out that statistic as a main reason for UNC’s success in the two squads’ previous game this year.
“We talked about dominating points in the paint," Davis said after the win. “As good as Syracuse is, they're limited in the front court, and so, we wanted to get the ball inside.”
Syracuse and North Carolina square off at 7 inside the JMA Wireless Dome on Tuesday. The Orange are 2-5 all-time in the Salt City against the Tar Heels, with their lone wins coming in 2014 and 2021. WAER’s coverage begins at 6:30 with McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Tipoff.