SYRACUSE (WBNG BINGHAMTON) No. 2 Syracuse (16-0, 3-0 ACC) outscored North Carolina (10-6, 0-3 ACC) 21-3 during an 11-minute stretch in the first half and went on to win 57-45 in front of 32,121 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.
For the third time in four years, Syracuse improved to 16-0, the fourth-best start in school history.
The 32,121 fans represented the largest crowd at an on-campus college basketball game this season. It ranked as the 36th largest crowd in Dome history and is tied for the ninth-earliest gathering of 30,000-plus fans in a season.
Senior C.J. Fair posted 20 points to reach that plateau for the fifth time this season while grabbing eight rebounds. He topped double-digits for the 15th time in 16 games. Sophomore Jerami Grant recorded a double-double for the second time in as many outings with 12 points and a career-best 12 rebounds.
The starting backcourt of redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney and freshman Tyler Ennis each contributed 10 points. Cooney had a season-high five steals and Ennis dished out seven assists for the third consecutive contest. Junior Rakeem Christmas had season bests of eight rebounds and four blocks.
North Carolina raced out to a 10-4 lead behind eight points from James Michael McAdoo. The Orange responded by netting five straight points, with four in-a-row coming from Grant to cut the deficit to 10-9.
With 12:03 remaining in the half and trailing 15-11, Syracuse scored 10 unanswered points to spark a 21-3 run and go ahead 32-18 with 2:31 to go. During the stretch, Grant led the way with eight points and Fair chipped in with six while the Orange defense limited UNC to 1-of-13 from the floor with six turnovers.
Leslie McDonald ended the Tar Heel drought on a jumper with a minute to go and the teams traded baskets in the final minute for a 34-22 Syracuse lead.
The Orange extended its lead to 42-24 less than four minutes into the second following a three-point play by Fair. It marked the end of a 31-7 run that spanned both halves and nearly 16 minutes.
A pair of jumpers by Marcus Pagie brought North Carolina within 47-35 midway through the half, but the Tar Heels would get no closer for the remainder of the afternoon. Syracuse responded immediately with eight of the next nine points to take its largest lead of the game at 55-36 with 6:45 left.
Paige hit another bucket with four minutes remaining to make it 55-38. The score would stay that way until a layup by Paige with 80 seconds. The Tar Heels tacked on five more points in the final 40 seconds for the final tally of 57-45.
Despite outshooting the Orange, the 45 points was tied for the lowest by a North Carolina squad since the shot clock was introduced in 1985. The Tar Heels also scored 45 points in a 45-44 win against NC State on Feb. 12, 1997.
SU outrebounded UNC 41-35, including 17-10 on the offensive end, which led to a 12-2 advantage on second-chance points. The hosts also enjoyed an eight-point margin from the charity stripe by going 11-of-15.
North Carolina had two players in double-figures in Paige (17 points) and McAdoo (15). McAdoo also collected a team-best nine rebounds.
The Orange heads back on the road for a game at Boston College on Monday, Jan. 13 at 9 p.m.
(Courtesy: Syracuse University)