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Saturday, Feb 29, 2020 at 10:52 pm

Syracuse Men’s Basketball Stomped by UNC 92-79 in Final Dome Game

By Ally Heath

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

In the 40 years since the Carrier Dome unlocked its revolving air-locked doors, Syracuse Men’s Basketball (16-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) has never missed the postseason. But as the team said goodbye to the pressurized building, that may now be a reality. Syracuse fell to North Carolina (12-17, 5-13 Atlantic Coast) 92-79 on Saturday in what may have knocked the last bit of air out of the Orange’s hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid. 

The day, overall, was bittersweet. It was Senior Day, and graduate student Shaun Belbey saw the court in the final minute of play. Elijah Hughes scored his 1,000th point in a Syracuse uniform early in the second half. Buddy Boeheim played like he hadn’t sprained his ankle three days prior and led the team in scoring. Former Syracuse star John Wallace had his No. 44 retired amongst other Orange legends. Jimmy Fallon even made an appearance to conduct the pep band. 

Even still, it’s hard not to lower your head after a 13-point loss at home to a North Carolina team that’s struggled all season. But Redshirt-Junior Elijah Hughes says, there’s only one way to look at the loss. 

“They got hot and they got hot at the right time. They found their shooters and they really rebounded well, so you have to hand it to them,” Hughes said. “We just have to take everything one day at a time. We know what we’re capable of doing and what we can do. Everyone’s just got to take a breath and take it one day at a time.” 

One player who’s learning what he’s capable of is Junior Bourama Sidibe; he had his second-straight double-double, and finally looked to be hitting his stride just when the Orange needed an effective big man at the boards. 

Sidibe struggled with foul trouble throughout the season, but in the last few games, an attitude adjustment has made the biggest difference in his improvement.

“I wasn’t worried about fouling people,” Sidibe said. “Today, I said, ‘I’m going to go play. If I foul, I foul.’ I wanted to be more aggressive around the rim and I was.”

Head Coach Jim Boeheim said that his play helped to pick up some of the slack left behind on the three-point defense.

“He’s really found himself the last couple games, but we struggled in other positions,” Boeheim said. “I just thought they played the way they are capable, and we had a lot of injuries and a lot of different things happen to them. But they’ve got everybody back and healthy now and I think they are a really good team.”

Boeheim also took time to look ahead at the positives in a general sense, citing the team’s success on the road as a last glimmer of hope. 

“We won five, and then lost two. We were very, very late in the games,” Boeheim said. “We have played better, I think we have pressed a little bit at home, but we have played much better on the road this year. We just need to regroup, get ready, and go out and play well in our last two games.”

The first of those last two comes on Tuesday at Boston College (13-16, 7-11 Atlantic Coast) with a chance to sweep the Eagles on the season and put themselves in a better position to make a run in the ACC Tournament. 

aheath@syr.edu | @AllyLHeath