Syracuse, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The second-ranked Syracuse Orange put their
flawless record on the line this weekend, as they play host to the North
Carolina Tar Heels in ACC action at the Carrier Dome.
Jim Boeheim's Orange may be the best team in the country, but currently sit
behind only Arizona in the polls. Syracuse has run off 15 straight wins in as
many games this season, including opening up its first run through the ACC
with wins over both Miami-Florida (49-44) and most recently, Virginia Tech
Roy Williams' Tar Heels have certainly had their ups and downs this season.
North Carolina has posted monster wins over the likes of Louisville, Michigan
State and Kentucky this season, but sits at just 10-5 on the year with some
questionable losses, including three at home already. The team enters this
contest still in search of its first league win, after dropping decisions at
Wake Forest (73-67) and at home to Miami-Florida (63-57).
These teams are meeting for just the eighth time in history. North Carolina is
clinging to a 4-3 series advantage, although Syracuse won the last matchup, an
87-71 decision at Madison Square Garden in 2009.
It's been tough trying to figure out which UNC team will take the floor any
given night. The Tar Heels are averaging an impressive 77.7 ppg this year on a
decent .455 shooting. The team also enjoys a +6.3 rebounding margin. However,
a lack of efficiency at the free-throw line (.623) has been troublesome for
the squad. Marcus Paige has made a nice transition into North Carolina's star
playmaker. The sophomore guard is the team's top scorer (17.0 ppg) and top
distributor (4.4 apg). The scoring depth is nice, with four other Tar Heels
boasting of double-digit averages. James Michael McAdoo is second on the team
with 14.4 ppg, followed by Brice Johnson (11.2 ppg), Leslie McDonald (11.0
ppg) and J.P. Tokoto (10.1 ppg).
The Tar Heels struggled big time at home against Miami last time out, shooting
an ugly .308 from the floor, including a mere 5-of-21 effort from behind the
arc. McAdoo was the only player to notch double figures in the loss, finishing
with 12 points. The usually explosive Paige had an awful shooting performance
(2-of-15), finishing with eight points.
Having a sub par offensive performance against Syracuse would not be
beneficial, as the Orange have a way of making even the most prolific
offensive teams look silly. Syracuse enters this game allowing a meager 59.3
ppg. The team is holding a +5.7 rebounding margin, while forcing nearly 16
turnovers per outing. ACC Preseason Player of the Year C.J. Fair headlines the
action at the offensive end of the floor, averaging 17.2 ppg. Jerami Grant
(12.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) joins Fair in the frontcourt. The backcourt tandem of
Trevor Cooney (13.9 ppg) and Tyler Ennis (11.7 ppg) provides balance. Cooney
is the team's top sniper (.453 -- 48-of-106), while Ennis is the top
distributor (5.6 apg).
The Orange used a 16-0 run over eight minutes of action in the second half to
distance themselves from the Hokies, winning their ACC clash running away.
Fair posted 17 points to lead all scorers in the game. Ennis finished with 13
points and seven assists, with just one turnover in 36 minutes of work. Grant
posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Cooney tacked on
11 points for good measure.
The Sports Network