Syracuse, N.Y.-- Defense was the name of the game for Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) in its 57-45 victory over North Carolina (10-6, 0-3) Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
"This was a defensive effort game," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got loose balls, we got on the floor, we made a lot of really good hustle plays."
North Carolina jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead behind its high-post play and ball movement against Syracuse's zone defense. Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo found success early on, scoring eight of the team's first 10 points.
The Tar Heels rhythm and offensive production were short-lived, however, when Syracuse settled down and started playing defense.
A C.J. Fair three-pointer coming at the 10:34 mark of the first half gave the Orange its first lead of the game. The team never looked back.
Fair (20 points) and and Jerami Grant (12 points) led the way, combining for more than half of Syracuse's 57-point total. Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis each had 10 points apiece.
Meanwhile, North Carolina's 45 points were the fewest they scored in the 10-plus seasons Roy Williams has been the head coach there.
As a whole, neither team shot particularly well, either. Syracuse went 21-of-60 (35 percent) from the field, four-of-19 (21 percent) from three. North Carolina on the other hand, went 20-of-51 (39 percent), 2-of-12 (16 percent) from downtown.
As the game progressed, it seemed as though Carolina drifted away from post play. McAdoo would score just five more points in the second half. He ended with 15.
"We were concerned about two things in this game," Boeheim said. "The two main things were: get back on defense and rebound the basketball. That's really what we had to do."
The Orange capitalized on both concerns, out rebounding the Tar Heels 41-35. Grant was a huge contributor in that category, accounting for 12 boards. Fair, Rakeem Christmas each had eight, respectively.
Due in large part to Syracuse's defensive style of play, the squad was able to force Carolina into bad decision making which resulted in careless turnovers or fouls.
According to Boeheim, the bigs made the necessary adjustments to combat Carolina's big frontline, too. Christmas played rim protector with four blocks.
"(Rakeem) and Jerami went after the ball," Boeheim said, "Tyler went after a couple that were 50/50 balls.That was really the difference."
Syracuse, for the most part, found Marcus Paige on defense and made him uncomfortable. The sophomore chipped in 17 points on seven-of-16 shooting. He was 2-of-6 from behind the arc.
"(Paige) has been the only guy, really, shooting the ball well from the three-point line," Boeheim said. "McDonald, we did a pretty good job with him. He only had a couple looks. Paige got loose in the second half late. He got some good looks and he can make those."
Syracuse will be on the road at Boston College on Monday, Jan. 13. Tip is set for 9 p.m.
Defense name of the game in win over UNC
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