The Coby White Show was in full effect in Chapel Hill Tuesday night as the freshman scored a career-high 34 points to help UNC clinch a double bye in the ACC Tournament with their 93-85 win over Syracuse. Carolina was able to clamp down on defense in the second half after the Orange practically shot the lights out from distance all first half.
With his 34 points (including six threes), White became the first freshman in UNC history to have three 30+ point games. That’s a very fine feather in the freshman’s cap to stand alone in such a category. Coby has truly blossomed as the year has gone on, and he’s definitely peaking at the right time.
White was one of three Tar Heels in double figures for the game with Cameron Johnson (16) and Nassir Little (11) joining him. Luke Maye, as he tends to do, managed to lead the team in rebounds with 12 boards. Unfortunately, Little had to leave the game early after being poked in the eye late in the second half. He was playing important minutes after Garrison Brooks fouled out.
Syracuse out-shot the Heels 48% to 40% from the field and 45% to 31% from distance. Where Carolina was able to dominant the Orange was on the boards, out-rebounding Syracuse 46-25. UNC was able to capitalize on 10 Syracuse turnovers and turn them into 15 points. The Heels turned it over nine times, but Syracuse only scored seven points as a direct result.
Carolina was fortunate to find themselves down just three at halftime after Syracuse’s blistering first half, but the Tar Heels came out on fire in the second half and managed to put a small amount of distance between themselves and the Orange. They never comfortably pulled away until very late in the game, but Syracuse definitely wasn’t able to keep up their torrid pace. Between Syracuse cooling off and UNC playing better defense, the Tar Heels put themselves in a fantastic position to win despite any frustration the 2-3 zone may have caused them.
The game felt a bit disjointed because of the rampant foul calls between the two teams. Syracuse was whistled for 26 fouls and UNC was called for 18 on their end. It made the game lack pretty much all possible flow. Fortunately for UNC, not only did Syracuse cool down from beyond the arc in the second half, but Elijah Hughes, who torched them for five threes, fouled out down the stretch.
Next up, UNC will travel to Clemson to take on the Tigers on Saturday.