Every fan of the North Carolina Tar Heels had that same old feeling during the first half against the Syracuse Orange Monday night.
You know… that uneasy bubble in your stomach alongside a mix of rage and hopelessness…
A feeling that usually follows the phrase, “here we go again.”
But somewhere along the way, something different happened to the Tar Heels. They took some incredible body blows and knock out punches. And refused to go down.
Whether it was Nate Britt canning three’s like Donald Williams or Brice Johnson channeling his inner Tyler Hansbrough, it was a Carolina team that just seemed to have something Head Coach Roy Williams hasn’t seen in a while.
And that a desire to win with a big ole side of toughness.
Syracuse played a near perfect game. They forced UNC in a ton of turnovers in the first half and collected 16 fast-break points. Rakeem Christmas collected 22 points and 12 boards and Trevor Cooney poured in 28 points. They shot lights out for a team technically with only seven players. The ball control of Jim Boeheim’s squad scored 83 points. There is not too many times a Boeheim coached team scores over 80 and loses.
But that was the case as the Orange had zero answers for anything in white and blue in the second half.
Marcus Paige did his usual thing with 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals. Britt, Johnson and Kennedy Meeks all scored 17 while Joel James kissed his biceps on the bench.
All of that goes down and all of a sudden Carolina has 58 points in the second half to take a 93-83 victory.
Yeah… UNC scored 58 points in the second half…
There has been weeks where Syracuse hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 58 in a game.
But the Tar Heels were different on Monday. It was more than just growing up too. It was game where it seems some of the old school swagger came back.
After a win against the troublesome Florida State Seminoles along with this victory over Syracuse, there is no better time for UNC to reclaim some of its status as one of the juggernauts of the game.
After all, the Heels next two Atlantic Coast Conference games are against the Louisville Cardinals on the road and a home tilt with the best team in the country that isn’t from the state of Kentucky in the Virginia Cavaliers.
From what everyone saw tonight, this Tar Heel team is ready to fight any team, any where.
*Section Photo and featured Photo (above) credit to Jeffrey A. Camarati