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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018 at 11:57 pm

Syracuse can’t complete comeback against UNC

By Christian De Guzman

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – It was a sight to behold. Syracuse fans on the edge of their seats as the Orange played a top-10 in the nation with less than a minute to go in regulation.

Then Frank Howard misfired on a three. Tyus Battle followed with a missed layup. And then Oshae Brissett couldn’t find the net on a corner triple.

Fans slowly filed out soon afterwards as Syracuse (18-10, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) failed to comeback Wednesday night against North Carolina (22-7, 11-5 ACC) at the Carrier Dome by a score of 78-74. The Orange shot 50% from the field in the second half to fuel its upset bid against the Tar Heels.

“I think we did everything we could offensively to win,” said Coach Jim Boeheim.

Syracuse scored the most points in a loss this season against North Carolina on Wednesday. The Orange trailed by as much as 12 points throughout the game. A 10-3 run towards the latter part of the second half pulled the Orange level against the Tar Heels at 74-74 with 3:07 left in the game.

However, Joey Berry stripped Paschal Chuwku and scored at the other end of the court to give UNC the lead for good with 1:39 left in the game. Berry finished the game with 18 points and Theo Pinson led the charge for the Tar Heels with 23 points – a career high for the senior guard.

“We let Joel get open too many times,” said Brissett. “Once we stopped him and forced other guys to do other things, Theo was able to knock shots down.”

Both Berry and Pinson scored from anywhere and everywhere on the floor. While Berry showcased his range with four threes, Pinson cut behind the Syracuse defense to score at the rim. He helped UNC score 40 points in the paint.

“Theo did a good job cutting to the basket,” said Battle. “Theo did well rebounding the ball – getting put backs and stuff like that.”

Pinson grabbed two of North Carolina’s 15 offensive rebounds in the game, which led to 19 second-chance points. The Tar Heels entered their contest against the Orange as the best offensive rebounding team in the ACC.

“Two or three times we stopped them, and we couldn’t get the rebound,” said Boeheim. “They capitalized.”

The trio of Battle, Howard, and Brissett did all it could to keep the Tar Heels at bay. The three combined to score 66 of SU’s 74 points on the night.

The Orange has scored at least 70 points in four of its last five games – a sign that the once stagnate offense of Syracuse has finally turned the corner.

Up next for SU is a road trip to Duke. The Orange needed a career day from Tyler Roberson last time in Cameron Indoor Stadium to escape with a victory.

“We’ve just gotta go there knowing that we can compete with any team in the country,” said Brissett.

Tip-off against the Blue Devils is set for 6:15 p.m. on Saturday.