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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Agents Orange dust off Tar Heels 87-71

Posted by on Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 2:43 PM

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Syracuse erased a two-point halftime deficit to rout North Carolina in the final of the 2k Sports Classic on Friday night in New York. The Orange, which entered the game as a one-point favorite, opened the second half with a 22-to-1 scoring run that effectively decided the competition.

There were few positives to glean from this game for the Tar Heels. Carolina committed another 19 turnovers, shot an atrocious 38 percent from the field and, on defense, allowed Syracuse to hit 54 percent of its shots.

Individually, the performances weren’t much better. Ed Davis did finish with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he struggled to defend Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku. Marcus Ginyard contributed a spirited 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he also committed five turnovers.

Worse for UNC, neither of the club’s point guards — Larry Drew and Dexter Strickland — scored a single point. That’s the sort of offensive ineffectiveness that will compel more teams to back off Carolina’s guards and make matters that much more difficult for the frontcourt.

The loss shook a fanbase that, to this point, had been coasting in the extended aftermath of last season’s national championship. But Friday’s dud sent a clear signal that expectations for this season should be calibrated far below where they were for 2008-09.

It’s certainly too early for the team to consider making radical adjustments, but clearly there are major concerns in the backcourt. Along with that, Carolina’s big men frequently were tied up or stripped of the ball outright by Syracuse players.

November being November, though, a loss such as this one doesn’t damage the team for next spring’s postseason. The question now is how the Heels bounce back from a humbling defeat, particularly given that elite opponents Michigan State, Texas and Kentucky await.

Carolina gets an opportunity to flush away the Syracuse game on Monday, when the Heels will host Gardner-Webb.

To see the UNC/Syracuse box score click here.

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