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UNC vs. Syracuse - Player(s) of the Game: the Frontcourt

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The Tar Heels were dominant on the boards and used that to get a lot of second chance points and a third-straight victory.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the box score shows a fairly even game in a lot of respects. Syracuse shot a little better: 47% to 40%, 34% to 21% from three. Turnovers were close to even, with North Carolina even committing less in this game: 11 to Syracuse’s 14. Fouls were nearly dead even with the Tar Heels called for just one more than the Orange.

The one area that was extremely not even was the rebounding battle. UNC grabbed 48 to Syracuse’s 31. Twenty-four of the Heels’ boards were offense, which meant they grabbed over half of their 44 missed field goals. That led another stat that Carolina dominated: UNC had 24 second chance points compared to Syracuse’s four. That was probably the difference in the Heels coming away with the 81-75 win.

There were two people who accounted for nearly half of those rebounds, and weren’t far away from Syracuse’s total on their own. This may be a cop out, but they’re both getting player of the game for North Carolina’s win over the Orange.

After getting relegated to the bench in recent games following a disapointing start to the season, Garrison Brooks returned to the starting lineup last night. He responded by leading the team with 16 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and finishing +17 in plus/minus, the best of any Tar Heel.

Meanwhile, Armando Bacot finished with 15 points on 7-13 shooting and a game high 12 rebounds. Seven of his were on the offensive end and led to nine of points. Four of his points also came in the final two minutes, helping take what was a one-point margin into the six-point margin the score ended with.

Both of them also finished with two assists each as part of the high low game UNC one again used to fight against Syracuse’s zone.

Another performance of note belonged to Leaky Black, who continued his string of good outings. He didn’t have a dominant shooting night like the did against Miami, but instead he just filled up the box score all over. Black finished with five points, seven assists, four rebounds, three blocks, a steal, and was +16 in plus/minus.

With the exception in last year’s ACC Tournament where both UNC’s season and the world went haywire, the Heels are now 10-1 in their last 11 meeting against Syracuse. In all but one of those wins, Carolina won the rebounding battle. Several of them were also by fairly sizeable margins. It’s one of Roy Williams and UNC’s main ways of combatting the zone. That continued Tuesday night and it led to another victory, thanks in large part to Brooks and Bacot.