Syracuse dismantles UNC before ACC cancels rest of tourney

SU dismantles UNC before ACC cancels tournament

ACC officials made the call to end the tournament early over coronavirus concerns.
Published: March 12, 2020 | Updated: March 13th, 2020 at 10:04 pm
UNC graduate forward Justin Pierce (32) fights for possession of the ball against Syracuse in the second round of the 2020 New York Life ACC Tournament held in the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. UNC lost 81-53.
UNC forward Justin Pierce tries to split Syracuse defenders Elijah Hughes and Bourama Sidibe during Wednesday's ACC Tournament second-round game in Greensboro, N.C.

UPDATE: The ACC has cancelled the remainder of the ACC men’s basketball tournament, issuing the following statement.

“Following additional consultation with the league’s presidents and athletic directors, and in light of the continued conversations surrounding the fluidity of COVID-19, the Atlantic Coast Conference will immediately cancel the remainder of the 2020 ACC Tournament. For NCAA Tournament automatic qualification purposes, Florida State will represent the league as the ACC Champion. We are disappointed for our student-athletes, schools and fans to have to make this decision; however, the overall health and safety of all involved is the priority.”

Original article:

Fresh off being named to the All-ACC first team, Elijah Hughes led the Orange barrage by pouring in 27 points as Syracuse dominated North Carolina 81-53 in its opening game Wednesday night at the conference’s men’s basketball tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Bourama Sidibe also chipped in, leading all players in rebounds and posting a double-double. The Orange never trailed and made a statement victory after being embarrassed by UNC earlier in the year.

The player that caused the Orange the most trouble in the regular season contest between these two teams was Cole Anthony, and the Orange were committed to making someone else beat them. The Orange threw repeated double teams at Anthony, forcing the ball out of his hands in the halfcourt. Anthony struggled mightily, posting more turnovers than points for the first time in his career.

The Orange never trailed in this contest. Winning many loose balls and putting forth more effort than the Tar Heels, Syracuse showed a physical presence inside as Marek Doelzaj and Bourama Sidibe outscored the talented frontcourt of North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot.

The Orange opened the game on a 7-0 burst, hitting each of their first three field goals, including Dolezaj’s layup just 4 seconds in. The teams then exchanged baskets over the next 12 minutes as the Tar Heels cut the lead to 24-20 at the 6:47 mark of the first half. The Tar Heels’ 6-0 run got the Carolina faithful fans back into it and made the game tense for the first time.

Following the momentum swing in the Heels’ favor, the Orange responded with a resounding 15-0 run to close the half, and never looked back.

Jim Boeheim’s zone defense did a tremendous job of denying ball entry to Garrison Brooks and made Cole Anthony look pedestrian. Looking ahead to today’s 9 p.m. matchup versus Louisville, the Orange will need to replicate their performance from last night and build on it.

When Syracuse played Louisville during conference play, Louisville bullied the Orange in the high post, and this created too many open looks for shooters like Jordan Nwora and Ryan Mcmahon.

The top point to look for in tonight’s contest will be the energy that the Orange have coming off of a game the night before. Louisville’s only loss when leading at halftime was to Florida St, the betting favorite to win the tournament. If Syracuse is to keep their tournament hopes alive, they will need to put pressure on the Cardinals right away.

It was a dominant win for the Orange, showcasing a little of everything they do well. Joe Girard shot poorly and the team still ran well offensively. Bourama Sidibe’s play inside will dictate the team’s success as they remain rather thin. As formerly noted, the conference tournament offers a second chance, and the Orange are just 3 wins away from punching their ticket to the dance.

Avatar for Micah Pruyn Goldstein

is a contributor to The NewsHouse.