Carolina Soul Searching Continues With Carrier Dome Collision At No. 2 Syracuse

By Matt Oakes Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm

LEAD-IN: The 10-5 UNC men’s basketball team will face a stern road test Saturday for a noon tipoff with No. 2 Syracuse.

At 10-5 on the season and 0-2 in ACC play, Carolina could really use a win against undefeated Syracuse, sitting at 15-0, in the Carrier Dome, a tough venue to experience success in.

Sophomore forward Brice Johnson says the Tar Heels won’t give up on the season despite back-to-back discouraging losses to Wake Forest and Miami.

“You just got to keep fighting. You can’t be the team that gives up right now. We’re still a great team. We beat some of the top teams in the country. We got to keep playing in one of the best conferences in the country. We just got to keep playing and come out and be ready for the next one,” Johnson says.

Senior guard Leslie McDonald says the team’s focus must be to stay aggressive and keep fighting moving forward, even if the shots aren’t falling.

“You got to keep looking forward and keep being aggressive. That’s the one thing. If your shot is not falling or you’re not very confident, keep being aggressive. As a team, we need to do that,” McDonald says.

The Tar Heels narrowly lead the all-time series with the Orange 4-3, but the last meeting went to Syracuse 87-71 in Madison Square Garden in 2009.

One of the keys to the matchup will be how Carolina is able to defend Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s infamous zone defense.

Sophomore guard Marcus Paige admits he’s a little concerned with facing the zone, especially after the way UNC struggled to cope with Miami’s use of the formation.

“It’s a little bit of a concern. Obviously, we’re going to work on that in the two days a lot because that’s all Syracuse does. Teams have zoned us before, and we’ve had success. I’m not super worried about it. You’ve got to forgive and forget,” Paige says.

Concerning to Tar Heel fans, Head Coach Roy Williams says he’s questioning everything right now, even down to what coat he’s wearing.

“As a coach right now, the last two games, you start questioning everything you do from silly stuff like what coat do you wear to what kind of defense you’re playing. I don’t know the answer. The best thing is if I knew the answer I would have already changed it,” Coach Williams says.

The Saturday noon game will be televised nationwide on ESPN, and WCHL’s coverage begins tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.

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