Beasts of The East: Syracuse Defeats UNC

Daniel KablackCorrespondent IIINovember 21, 2009

MILWAUKEE - MARCH 07: Rick Jackson #00 of the Syracuse Orange dunks the ball against the Marquette Golden Eagles on March 7, 2009 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Syracuse defeated Marquette 86-79 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On Friday night, 24th ranked Syracuse beat the defending National Champion North Carolina Tarheels by making them look like a Division II squad in the second half.  Syracuse took the 2K Sports title, defeating the Tarheels in a 87-71 win.

After starting the season without three key players from last years Big East Championship team, the Orangemen found themselves in primetime against the Tarheels on Friday night in Madison Square Garden

Last time 'Cuse saw the Tarheels was Nov 21, 1987 with UNC coming away victorious 96-93.

After North Carolina won the tip, the first possession of the 2K Sports Title would end up thrown out of bounds—nothing new to an offense that averages about twenty per game this season.

The turnovers would keep on coming.

From the beginning Syracuse looked in control, starting the game on an 8-0 run and keeping UNC from scoring for the first three minutes.

Then Carolina, with a few steals, brought themselves back from a 8-0 deficit to take the lead 13-11.

As time wore on, Carolina would wear down.

Syracuse's reinvigorated defense slowly fatigued the Carolina offense, creating turnovers by keeping them passing, running and cutting. As the first half wore on, poor offensive play by Syracuse gave the Tarheels a two point halftime lead, 39-37.

Syracuse went on a tear to start the second half—something to the tune of a 22-1 run.

In fact, Syracuse would play so impressively that ESPN ran an inset 'Roy Williams FaceBox' during the game to better our idea of the punishment his team was taking.

But how? How could UNC have ever seen this coming? These were the same Orangemen that lost to Division II LeMoyne 82-79. They beat a Cal team missing two of their key men and it appeared that they simply couldn't match up with the Tarheels.

Syracuse proved that wasn't the case. Not any longer.

As the Orange found themselves up 85-69 with just under two minutes to go, many of us finally figured something out. The Big East is the most dominant conference in the country.

Here was the 24th ranked team in the country, ranked 5th in the Big East, absolutely punishing the National Champions.

Sure, the Tarheels aren't exactly what they were last year—they've lost some great players.

Of course, you can say it's just November basketball. Yeah, UNC will be in it at the end of the year.

But the Orange proved that they too belong at the top of the list of elite teams this year.

Daniel Kablack is editor of