UNC basketball is getting pretty good at finishing games that are close late, much to the detriment of their fans’ blood pressure. The Tar Heels pulled away slightly at the very end of what had been a very close game with free throws down the stretch to win 81-75. Much of their success came from the fact that they absolutely owned the offensive glass, besting Syracuse 24-4 in second chance points.
Garrison Brooks returned to the starting lineup and made his presence felt immediately. The senior posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds while going a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. Armando Bacot and RJ Davis joined Brooks in double figures with 15 and 12 points, respectively, with Bacot also posting a double-double with 12 boards.
Carolina found themselves in trouble guarding the three once again with Buddy Boeheim getting 18 points in the first half with four three-pointers. Leaky Black locked down Boeheim in the second half so much that he scored literally zero points. Black also had seven assists and a few key free throws down the stretch.
Boeheim was far from the only offensive threat for the Orange. Quincy Guerrier scored 23 points before fouling out late to lead Syracuse. As a team, the Orange hit the double digit mark in threes with 10, which has portended trouble for the Tar Heels this season. Despite the fact that UNC hit just five of their three attempts for the game, they limited turnovers and owned the paint with 42 points in order to make up for their deficiency beyond on the arc.
They aren’t blowing teams out or anything, but you can finally see this team starting to figure out some of the issues they were having earlier in the season. No one likes to have patience with a young team because it can be extremely frustrating, but the reward when they figure it out is also sweet.
Carolina will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State.