Syracuse Men’s Basketball Can’t Hold On To Beat No. 5 UNC
By Brittany Ehrlich
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Syracuse may be the tallest basketball team in the nation, but against the University of North Carolina, getting rebounds was a challenge. The Orange were dominated on the glass with UNC tallying 21 more rebounds than SU throughout the game.
Syracuse (18-10, 9-6 Atlantic Coast) ultimately lost to No. 5 North Carolina (23-5, 13-2 ACC) 93-85 on Tuesday night in the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that UNC was able to grab so many rebounds as the Tar Heels currently lead the nation in rebounds with 42.8 per game.
“They’ve been a great rebounding team for years now,” said Buddy Boeheim. “And just how they send three, four guys every time at you and they’re gonna go. Every time they take tough shots they know if they miss them they’ll have three, four guys waiting inside.”
Syracuse’s bigs got into foul trouble early in the game, which led to more difficulty on the boards in the second half. Marek Dolezaj and Elijah Hughes both fouled out after grabbing 7 of SU’s 25 rebounds.
North Carolina’s 21-rebound advantage was the biggest rebounding margin of the season for Syracuse. This was the third-most rebounds the Orange has given up this season. The University of Buffalo and the Duke game in Durham lead that list with 48.
The biggest struggles with rebounding came in the second half, as Syracuse only had five less boards in the first period. In it’s past two losses to Top-5 teams in the country, UNC and Duke, Syracuse has had strong early performances before faltering in the second half. This is completely different from the season up to this point, as the Orange usually has slow starts.
Frank Howard said this new emergence of hot starts has to do with a mindset of being ready to go.
Hughes was one of those players that had a great start but became cold in the second half on Tuesday. He finished the night with 15 points, which were all scored in the first half.
One positive on the night for the Orange was its shooting. SU finished with 85-points, a regulation season-high. This was largely thanks to Tyus Battle. He scored 29 points and is now ranked 17th on the all-time career points list with 1,589. Battle had just six points in the first half, but poured on 23 in the second.
This was Battle’s 75th double-digit scoring game of his career
Syracuse travels about an hour and a half west to take on Wake Forest on Saturday at noon.