Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-59 win over Syracuse in the ACC Tournament Second Round.

Highlights:

  • With the ACC Tournament being played in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, this was a de facto home game for Syracuse. Similar to the regular season meeting between the two teams, Carolina had a comfortable lead, which Syracuse began to chip away at with pressure in the second half. The difference tonight was that, although the margin dipped to nine points, the Heels went on an 11-2 run to close out the game.
  • The issue with the lead dwindling was that Coach Williams had to play the starters more minutes than he would have liked (Joel Berry in particular). On the other bench, Syracuse relies almost solely on their starting five. Other than Paschal Chukwu who fouled out early in the second half, no other Orange starter played fewer than 37 minutes.
  • The Tar Heel bench, meanwhile, gave solid production. They contributed 11 points (including 5-for-6 on free throws from Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks), grabbed eight rebounds, and, perhaps most importantly, only turned the ball over once. Manley had a big boy rebound and stick back dunk just before halftime.

  • The Tar Heel defense has been much maligned throughout the season. On this night, they forced five Syracuse shot clock violations (four that were whistled and one that surprisingly wasn’t based on how referees typically blow those plays dead). No, don’t check your computer. It’s fine. You read correctly: FIVE shot clock violations.
  • The defense did surrender seven first half three pointers. However, Syracuse only made one three in the second half. For the game, the Orange only shot 31.7 percent from the field.
  • Carolina had 20 assists on 25 made baskets. That means that, for the season, the Heels have assisted on 45 of 54 made baskets against Syracuse (83.3 percent).

  • Much of the UNC assist ratio is due to Theo Pinson’s ability to carve up the Syracuse zone from the inside. His aggression and passing against the Jim Boeheim staple is exactly what Carolina needs against the Orange. Pinson finished the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block. Not a shabby night.

  • With Pinson’s 16 points, his season average has now bumped up to 10.1 points per game; meaning all five starters are averaging double-digit points. 
  • At the under-12:00 timeout of the first half, Syracuse led 16-15. Coming out of the timeout, Carolina employed their patented run-and-jump defense to grab two steals and spark a 16-3 run. UNC never trailed again.
  • Roy Williams teams typically shoot a lot of free throws. This team hasn’t because of their reliance on the three ball. However, the Tar Heels took 28 charity shots on Wednesday night.
  • Berry struggled with his shooting touch against Duke and the same was true in the first half against Syracuse. He did, however, knock down two three-pointers in the second half. Hopefully that will get him going for the rest of the postseason.
  • Carolina was able to do what Carolina likes to do tonight (as much as you can against the zone). They scored 13 points off turnovers to Syracuse’s two and blanked the Orange in fast break points – 15-0.
  • Kenny Williams led the scoring attack for Carolina in the win with 17. It felt like Williams was the recipient of the majority of the fast break points. He did a great job of getting out in transition. However, Williams’ most important contribution was his defense on Syracuse’s leading scorer Tyus Battle. Sure, Battle scored 15 points, but on 4-for-21 shooting. Well done, Mr. Williams.
  • All-in-all this was a relatively comfortable win that sets up an opportunity to get back at Miami for the buzzer-beating, similar-to-the-2016-National-Championship loss last week. The game will be a big test of Carolina’s ability to guard one-on-one. The Hurricanes penetrated at will against the Tar Heels last week.

 

Roy Williams post-game press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. The Tar Heels’ next game is a rematch against Miami on Thursday, March 8 in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals. Tip is at

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Author Details
I’m a UNC writer for Armchair All-Americans. I grew up in Atlanta knowing that I was going to be the next Maddux or Glavine. Unfortunately, I never hit six feet tall, 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, 90 m.p.h. on the radar gun, or 50 home runs. So I decided to do my sports from my armchair and behind a computer screen. My favorite all-time sports moment? 1992. NLCS. Game 7. Sid Bream. Look it up. Worst sports moment ever? Two words: Kris. Jenkins. I live in the bustling metropolis of Webb City, MO, where ministry is my full-time job. I spend my free time with my beautiful wife, Maggie, and my two children, Pax & Poppy.
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I’m a UNC writer for Armchair All-Americans. I grew up in Atlanta knowing that I was going to be the next Maddux or Glavine. Unfortunately, I never hit six feet tall, 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, 90 m.p.h. on the radar gun, or 50 home runs. So I decided to do my sports from my armchair and behind a computer screen. My favorite all-time sports moment? 1992. NLCS. Game 7. Sid Bream. Look it up. Worst sports moment ever? Two words: Kris. Jenkins. I live in the bustling metropolis of Webb City, MO, where ministry is my full-time job. I spend my free time with my beautiful wife, Maggie, and my two children, Pax & Poppy.

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