CHAPEL HILL– The Carolina men’s basketball team lost 57-45 at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon against No. 2 Syracuse.
With the win, Syracuse improved to 16-0 on the season and 3-0 in the ACC while Carolina fell to 10-6 on the year and 0-3 in conference for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
C.J. Fair led the Orange with 20 points on the day while Marcus Paige posted 17 points to lead the contributions for the Tar Heels.
Both teams struggled from the field, shooting south of 40 percent as teams.
James Michael McAdoo opened proceedings with a score. And then J.P. Tokoto followed that one up with a long jumper that staked UNC out to a 4-0 lead.
McAdoo was taking over the contest early on with a steal that gave Carolina the 8-4 lead with 16:38 to play.
Early sloppy play by Syracuse was apparent as they committed four turnovers just over four minutes into the contest.
Eight points and two steals highlighted McAdoo’s quick start in the Carrier Dome.
C.J. Fair popped a smooth jumper to close the gap for the Orange. But the Tar Heels were taking advantage of the Syracuse turnovers. McAdoo ran the floor and slammed it home.
The Tar Heels held a 15-13 advantage with 11:18 to play in the first half.
Fair netted a three-pointer to take the first lead of the game for the Orange with 10:15 on the first half clock.
With 8:29 to play in the first half, Syracuse had jumped out to a 21-15 lead with methodical precision on offense.
Head Coach Roy Williams was extra demonstrative courtside as Carolina picked up a questionable foul call that handed Syracuse a trip to the line, resulting in a 23-17 lead for the Orange.
Syracuse went on a 14-2 run for a six-minute stretch that firmly gave the home team control of the contest.
Marcus Paige’s play continued to deteriorate, missing wide open looks, and Syracuse claimed a commanding 30-18 lead with 2:40 to play in the first half.
McDonald sniped a a hurried jumper to get the Tar Heels within 12 at 32-20 with just under a minute to play, but the Orange took the 34-22 lead at halftime.
The second half got underway with energetic play from Carolina, but McAdoo missed both of his free throws, and a three-point make by the Orange placed the score at 37-24 with 17:20 to go.
Syracuse’s zone defense was taking its toll on the Tar Heels, who were unable to beat the zone in transition. Johnson provided a nice lift for UNC with an emphatic throw down. But the Orange still maintained a 44-31 lead with 13 minutes to play.
The Orange’s Cooney made a three, and Paige answered with a long-range two-point play. The pace of play was accelerating midway through the second half .
Syracuse was having its way with Carolina. Missed shots and turnovers were helping Orange’s cause as they took a 53-36 lead with 7:44 left to go in the game.
The closing minutes of play were dominated by the team in orange and white as UNC couldn’t find the basket and struggled to contain the physical play of the Orange.