The No. 2-ranked Syracuse Orange had no problem dispatching the North Carolina Tar Heels, 57-45, in a Saturday afternoon matchup between ACC opponents.
The Orange utilized their patented zone defense to limit the Tar Heels to just 39.2 percent field-goal shooting in the game. UNC wasn’t any better from beyond the arc, connecting on a paltry two of 12 three-point attempts.
Andrew Carter of The News & Observer found that this is the fewest points the Tar Heels have scored in the Roy Williams era:
#UNC down 55-38. 3:41 left. Record for fewest points under Roy (48) is in peril here.— Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) January 11, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info pointed out that it tied UNC's lowest point total of the shot clock era:
North Carolina w/ 45 pts - tied for its fewest in the shot clock era (in 45-44 WIN at NC State in 1997; Antawn Jamison had 12). #UNCvsCUSE— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 11, 2014
Shane Ryan of Grantland was quick to point out the absurdity of North Carolina’s failed three-point barrage:
Look, when you have the nation's 265th-best 3-pt shooting percentage, you gotta live or die by the three, right?— Shane Ryan (@ShaneRyanHere) January 11, 2014
A packed house was on hand to witness this shellacking, as Stephen Bailey of The Daily Orange pointed out it was the biggest and noisiest crowd thus far at the Carrier Dome during the 2013-14 campaign:
The official attendance is 32,121. Largest and loudest crowd of the season by far.— Stephen Bailey (@Stephen_Bailey1) January 11, 2014
It wasn’t an overall awful game for UNC, as the program got off to a hot start and fought the Orange over the initial minutes. However, the Tar Heels fell into a terrible slump midway through the first half and never recovered:
After starting the game 7-11 from the field, UNC has gone just 1-12.— Syracuse Athletics (@Cuse) January 11, 2014
North Carolina is now 10-6 and 0-3 in ACC play, a concerning trend that Jeff Goodman of ESPN noted may be an issue when it comes time for the selection committee to debate the team’s worthiness for the NCAA tournament:
North Carolina on its way to 0-3 in ACC play. Question becomes what Tar Heels can finish in league and still get in NCAA tourney.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 11, 2014
Syracuse is now 16-0 on the year with three wins in the conference. There is no question that the Orange are bound for the tournament as they continue to make their case for a No. 1 seed.
Let’s take a look at the notable players involved in this contest and dole out some grades for their performances.
C.J. Fair, F, Syracuse: A
Fair was dominant in this matchup, putting up 20 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal.
The Orange’s official Twitter feed noted that it was his 15th double-figure scoring performance in 16 attempts this year:
CJ Fair is now in double figures for the 15th time in 16 games. He has 11 points as cuse leads 19-15.— Syracuse Athletics (@Cuse) January 11, 2014
It was just another solid all-around day for the senior forward, who has been Syracuse’s best player and arguably one of the most consistent players in the nation during the 2013-14 campaign.
James Michael McAdoo, F, UNC: B
McAdoo was one of only two UNC players to score in double digits in this game. He finished the day with 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block.
His efforts at the free-throw line were troubling, however, as McAdoo connected on just one of his six attempts from the stripe.
Regardless, McAdoo did his job for the most part. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, he received almost zero support from his teammates, and that was a large reason why this one ended in a blowout.
Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse: B+
Ennis may be one of the best freshmen in the country, a question posed by ESPN College Basketball.
Is Tyler Ennis the best freshman in the country? #UNCvsCUSE— ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) January 11, 2014
He's gaining more attention for his control of the offense and tempo, demonstrated by a 10-point, seven-assist, four-rebound, two-steal game.
While Ennis only connected on five of 13 field-goal attempts, he still made enough plays to help ‘Cuse run away with a victory.
The Orange will prepare for a trip to Massachusetts to take on struggling Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Jan. 13. The Eagles don’t project to provide much of a challenge, and it would be downright surprising if Syracuse failed to run away with a blowout victory, even on the road.
Will UNC win its next game against BC?
Don’t expect ‘Cuse to face a major challenge until Feb. 1, when the school has a marquee showdown with the Duke Blue Devils.
UNC is left to pick up the pieces after this blowout loss ahead of a Jan. 18 meeting with BC. Head coach Roy Williams must find a way to get his squad back on track and playing better in the conference during the week-long layoff.
The Tar Heels definitely have what it takes to turn it around—as evidenced by wins over Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky earlier in the year—but must prove they can do exactly that sooner than later.