Nance hits 21, key late buckets as UNC survives at Syracuse

By R.L. Bynum

Pete Nance seems to save his best for games for the state of New York.

Nance scored a game-high 21 points, including the go-ahead bucket with 19 seconds left, as North Carolina pulled out a 72–68 victory Tuesday night at Syracuse to extend its win streak to four.

“When we come together, we’re really hard to beat,” said Nance, whose buzzer-beater in the Ohio State 89–84 overtime win on Dec. 17 at Madison Square Garden sent that game into overtime. “I think we’re starting to jell and we’ve got that experience together. I’m just really excited for us to move forward because we’ve got a lot of momentum right now and confidence and I’m just excited to see what we can do.”

Judah Mintz charged into RJ Davis for a flagrant one foul at the other end after Nance’s bucket, elbowing UNC’s junior guard in the face.

Davis went down hard to the court and, after finally sitting up, had a towel over one eye. After taking a spill under the basket early in the second half, he sat out a few minutes and had his right (shooting) hand taped after disclocating a finger.

It’s probably good that UNC (15–6, 7–3 ACC) doesn’t play for eight days to give him time to heal after a heroic game with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“He’s an unbelieveable player and he’s extremely tough,” said Coach Hubert Davis, adding that RJ Davis is fine.

Caleb Love, who made his first three 3-point attempts and scored 15, converted three free throw attempts with 10.7 seconds left to put the game away.

Armando Bacot fought through foul trouble again and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

“I could go down the line; everybody that played in the game made at least one impact play that put us in position to get an unbelievable win on the road,” Coach Davis said.

Joe Girard III led the Orange with 18 points and four 3-pointers, with Mintz adding 17 points and Chris Bell 15. Jesse Edwards fouled out in the final minute with eight points and five blocks.

The Orange took a brief one-point lead with 4:14 left on a Mintz free throw. But, after Bacot went to the bench with four fouls, Nance’s bucket on a spinning drive put the Heels up 64–63 with 3:50 remaining.

A Girard 3-pointer with 1:23 left gave Syracuse a 68–66 lead. Nance split a pair of free throws with 21.4 seconds left after Edwards fouled out. Leaky Black deflected the ball after Nance missed the second attempt. The ball caromed toward the baseline and Girard tried to save it but directed it right to Nance, who scored to give UNC the lead with 19 seconds left.

“Leaky jumped up and grabbed it and I think somebody had knocked it out of his hands,” Nance said. “Girard was saving it inbounds and I was standing right there and I caught it and laid it in. Just never given up on the play. All the credit to Leaky for spurring that play. It was a big-time play for us.”

Nance, the only player in the game to play all 40 minutes, added four rebounds, tied his season-high with three assists and had three steals (changed Wednesday from four).

“We’ve been stressing in the past couple of weeks just doing it together and staying connected the whole time,” Nance said. “We’ve got a veteran group and some experienced guys. I think being able to just band together down the stretch and know that the game is never over was the difference-maker for us tonight.”

UNC shared the ball well with assists on 20 of the Tar Heels’ 26 field goals, only the third game this season with at least 20 assists (also in wins over The Citadel and Ohio State) and produce a season-high assist rage of 76.9% (previous best 75% on 24 assists and 32 field goals against The Citadel). Syracuse (13–8, 6–4) stormed back from a 10-point deficit with 12:43 left but came up short.

As the high-post guy at the top of the Syracuse zone, Nance was a key part of trying to beat the Orange’s stingy defense. Nance said good ball movement was important for UNC.

“Everybody’s sharing the ball and Coach always talks about good-to-great [shots] and I thought we did a great job of that,” Nance said. “I knew I was going to be able to catch it there all night and just trying to make the right play. All the credit to my teammates for finding me.”

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Coach Davis said that the ball movement at the beginning of the game created lots of good shots.

“We needed to do a better job of attacking the basket,” he said. “We needed to be strong with our moves so that we can get to the free-throw line. We ended up with 23 free throws and so that’s huge for us; that’s a huge advantage for us.”

By the first television timeout, Carolina already had more assists (6) than in the entire N.C. State game (5) and a 15–6 lead, with Love making his first two 3-point attempts.

Girard scored 8 points in a 13–7 run to trim UNC’s lead to 24–21 with 9:13 left in the first half. Carolina led 38–34 at halftime after Tyler Nickel’s block led to a Bacot dunk with 58 seconds left and Syracuse’s Jesse Edwards dunked at the other end three seconds later.

A Benny Williams layup and a Bell dunk tied it for Syracuse in the first 68 seconds of the second half.

Nickel, a team-high +12, gave UNC some quality minutes off the bench, with a big rebound in the last three minutes of the game. He was on the floor with Davis, Black, Nance and Bacot as the Tar Heels outscored Syracuse 12–6 in a second-half stretch of more than four minutes that turned a tie game into a six-point Carolina lead.

Edwards picked up his fourth foul during an 8–0 Carolina run that included five consecutive Bacot points and ended with a Nance 3-pointer with 12:43 as UNC took a 56–46 edge.

NOTES — Carolina gets more than a week off before returning home Wednesday, Feb. 1, for a rematch against Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. (ACC Network). The Panthers (13–7, 6–3), 3–3 since beating the Tar Heels 76–74 at Pittsburgh on Dec. 30, play two home games this week: against Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Wednesday (ACC Network) and against Miami at 4 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU). … Puff Johnson missed his second consecutive game with a sore knee. It was the fifth game he’s missed this season. … Carolina rebounded a season-low 16.7% of its misses. … UNC leads the series with the Orange 16–6, including 5–2 at Syracuse and 12–3 in ACC games. … Carolina outscored Syracuse 21–7 in points off turnovers as the Heels improved to 8–1 when they have that advantage. … UNC held the Orange to 68 points, the sixth straight game an opponent has scored fewer than 70.

UNC 72, Syracuse 68


UNC lineup combinations

ScoreTime12345Segment
score
Starters20:00DavisLoveBlackNanceBacot17–10
17–1013:04DunnWashington5–6
22–1610:53Black2–2
24–189:20TrimbleBacot2–5
26–235:59Dunn4–4
30–273:16LoveNickel5–5
35–321:35NickelBlack3–2
38–34HalfLoveBacot2–6
40–4017:40LoveNickel12–6
52–4613:06Davis4–2
56–4811:59Love3–6
59–549:12Washington0–3
59–577:43LoveNickelBacot2–0
61–576:36DavisLove1–4
62–614:27NickelBlackNance2–2
64–632:34BlackNanceBacot5–5
69–680:10LoveNickel2–0
71–680:10DunnTrimbleBlackNance1–0
72–68Final

TeamLeagueOverall
Clemson10–318–6
No. 8 Virginia9–317–4
Pittsburgh9–316–7
No. 19 Miami10–419–5
No. 22 N.C. State9–419–5
Duke8–517–7
North Carolina7–515–8
Wake Forest7–615–9
Syracuse7–614–10
Florida State6–78–16
Boston College5–811–13
Virginia Tech4–814–9
Notre Dame2–1010–13
Louisville1–113–20
Georgia Tech1–128–15


Monday’s result
No. 19 Miami 81, Duke 59
Tuesday’s games
North Carolina at Wake Forest, 7 p.m., ESPN
Louisville at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., ACCN
No. 22 N.C. State at No. 8 Virginia, 9 p.m., ACCN
Wednesday’s games
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m., RSNs
Boston College at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m., ACCN
Syracuse at Florida State, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday’s games
Pittsburgh at Florida State, noon, ESPN2 or ESPNU
No. 22 N.C. State at Boston College, noon, RSNs
Clemson at North Carolina, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 2 p.m., RSNs
Duke at No. 8 Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, 5 p.m., ACCN
Louisville at No. 19 Miami, 7 p.m., ACCN


TeamLeagueOverall
Clemson10–318–6
No. 8 Virginia9–317–4
Pittsburgh9–316–7
No. 19 Miami10–419–5
No. 22 N.C. State9–419–5
Duke8–517–7
North Carolina7–515–8
Wake Forest7–615–9
Syracuse7–614–10
Florida State6–78–16
Boston College5–811–13
Virginia Tech4–814–9
Notre Dame2–1010–13
Louisville1–113–20
Georgia Tech1–128–15


Monday’s result
No. 19 Miami 81, Duke 59
Tuesday’s games
North Carolina at Wake Forest, 7 p.m., ESPN
Louisville at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m., ACCN
No. 22 N.C. State at No. 8 Virginia, 9 p.m., ACCN
Wednesday’s games
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m., RSNs
Boston College at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m., ACCN
Syracuse at Florida State, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday’s games
Pittsburgh at Florida State, noon, ESPN2 or ESPNU
No. 22 N.C. State at Boston College, noon, RSNs
Clemson at North Carolina, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 2 p.m., RSNs
Duke at No. 8 Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, 5 p.m., ACCN
Louisville at No. 19 Miami, 7 p.m., ACCN



UNC statistics


DateMonth/dayTime/scoreOpponent/event
(current ranking)
LocationTV/record
October
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
November
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
No. 11
Iowa State
Portland5–1
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
Consolation:
No. 3 Alabama
Portland5–2
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 18 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
December
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
January
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 8 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69No. 22 N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
February
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7Tuesday7 p.m.Wake ForestWinston-SalemESPN
11Saturday2 p.m.ClemsonHome ESPN2
13Monday7 p.m.No. 19 MiamiHomeESPN
19Sunday1 p.m.No. 22 N.C. StateRaleighESPN
22Wednesday9 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN or ESPN2
25Saturday6 or 8No. 8 VirginiaHomeESPN
27Monday7 p.m.Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.ESPN
March
4Saturday6:30DukeHomeESPN
ACC Tournament
7–11Tuesday-SaturdayTBATBAGreensboroTBA
If tickets for home games are available, you can purchase them here.
ACCN means the game airs on ACC Network.
DateMonth/dayTime/scoreOpponent/event
(current ranking)
LocationTV/record
October
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
November
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
No. 11
Iowa State
Portland5–1
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
Consolation:
No. 3 Alabama
Portland5–2
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 18 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
December
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
January
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 8 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69No. 22 N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
February
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7Tuesday7 p.m.Wake ForestWinston-SalemESPN
11Saturday2 p.m.ClemsonHome ESPN2
13Monday7 p.m.No. 19 MiamiHomeESPN
19Sunday1 p.m.No. 22 N.C. StateRaleighESPN
22Wednesday9 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN or ESPN2
25Saturday6 or 8No. 8 VirginiaHomeESPN
27Monday7 p.m.Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.ESPN
March
4Saturday6:30DukeHomeESPN
ACC Tournament
7–11Tuesday-SaturdayTBATBAGreensboroTBA
If tickets for home games are available, you can purchase them here.
ACCN means the game airs on ACC Network.

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

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