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UNC prevails after hectic finish, squeaks by Syracuse

Jan 24, 2023; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Benny Williams (13) and North Carolina Tar Heels forward Pete Nance (32) go for a loose ball in the first half at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Nance had 21 points and Armando Bacot added 18 as visiting North Carolina nipped Syracuse 72-68 in Atlantic Coast Conference action on Tuesday.

Caleb Love chipped in 15 points, including three key free throws, as the Tar Heels (15-6, 7-3 ACC) won for the sixth time in their last seven games.

Joe Girard scored 18 points and Judah Mintz notched 17, but each had a key miscue in the waning seconds for the Orange (13-8, 6-4). Chris Bell pitched in 15 points, while Jesse Edwards blocked five shots.

After trailing by 10 earlier in the second half, Syracuse took a 63-62 lead with 4:14 left as Mintz banked in a runner. However, Nance responded with a spinning layup and RJ Davis knocked down a jumper with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, putting North Carolina ahead 66-63.

Maliq Brown’s tip-in made it a one-point game, and Girard dropped in a 3-pointer on the next possession to put the Orange in front 68-66. But Girard committed a key error with less than 20 seconds to go, saving a ball under his own basket, as Nance flipped it in to put the Tar Heels in front 69-68.

Mintz was whistled for an offensive foul on the other end — a play that was ruled a Flagrant 1. Love made one of two free throws and then converted a pair at the charity stripe after another quick foul by the Orange. Girard’s missed 3-pointer on the other end sealed the outcome.

North Carolina jumped out to a 13-4 lead en route to a 38-34 halftime advantage. Bacot finished with 12 points in the first half, while Girard also had 12 to pace the Orange.

The teams were tied at 38, 40 and 44 early in the second half before North Carolina started to take control.

Love made a layup and Nance knocked down two free throws before Bacot converted back-to-back hoops shortly thereafter to make it 53-46. Nance’s 3-pointer with less than 13 minutes remaining gave the Tar Heels their first double-digit lead of the game.

However, Girard made a 3-pointer and then Bell knocked down two shots from beyond the arc to get the hosts within 59-57, setting up the chaotic finish.

–Field Level Media