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UNC 78, Syracuse 74: Tar Heels hang on for their sixth straight win

It wasn’t pretty, but it counts all the same.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina picked up their sixth consecutive win on the road at Syracuse Wednesday night after avoiding a late-game collapse. The first half of the game went swimmingly for the Tar Heels, but they were out-scored by the Orange in the second half and had to come up with a couple of clutch possessions late to get out of town with the win.

Theo Pinson had a terrific game, scoring 20 points to lead all Tar Heels. He chipped in six rebounds, three steals, and a team-high seven assists. This is the kind of game Theo has been having more and more of recently (with even more scoring) and it’s no surprise that it has resulted in the Heels playing their best basketball of the season. Joel Berry II was right behind Pinson with 18 points of his own.

Assists were dished out all over the place for UNC. In addition to Pinson’s seven, Berry, Kenny Williams, and Luke Maye each had four, and Cameron Johnson added three more. The team had 25 total. Sterling Manley was fantastic off the bench with 12 points, which was third-most on the team.

Carolina gave up big point totals to Tyus Battle and Frank Howard with 26 and 23, respectively. The shooting between the two teams was incredibly similar with the Heels just out-shooting ‘Cuse 44% to 43% from the field and 36% to 34% from three-point range. Berry made four shots from distance and Theo made both of his.

UNC showed toughness by not collapsing once Syracuse started making a late push for the lead, but it was another example of them not putting away an inferior opponent before letting them pick themselves up off the mat. You’d hope by now that would be less of an issue, especially with the end of the season just around the corner, but it’s very difficult to argue with six straight wins.

The Heels will be back in action next Tuesday at home for Senior Night against Miami.