EditorsNote: Corrects to Battle making free throws to make it 74-71
Freshman guard Coby White scored a season-high 34 points and No. 5 North Carolina used a huge edge in free throws in defeating visiting Syracuse 93-85 on Tuesday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina (23-5, 13-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won four games in a row and moved a half-game ahead of Virginia for the top spot in the ACC, aided by Duke’s loss earlier in the night at Virginia Tech.
White reached the 20-point mark for the sixth time this season. He had 27 points with nearly 12 minutes remaining. He ended up 6-for-11 on 3-pointers and 10-for-10 on free throws.
Cameron Johnson posted 16 points and Nassir Little chipped in 11 points for the Tar Heels, who were 34-for-37 on free throws.
Tyus Battle scored 29 points, Elijah Hughes poured in 15 points, Frank Howard had 11 points and Oshae Brissett added 10 points for Syracuse (18-10, 9-6).
The Tar Heels used a 12-0 run to build a 58-49 lead early in the second half. Then Syracuse put together a 7-0 spurt.
The Orange were within 74-71 after Battle free throws with 8:29 to play. But Hughes picked up his fourth foul on North Carolina’s next possession. Then Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj got his fourth foul at the 6:53 mark.
When White scored five straight points and Kenny Williams made two foul shots, the gap grew to 83-73.
Syracuse led 46-43 at halftime, with the Orange cranking up what has often been a stagnant offense by shooting 52.9 percent from the field. That included 8-for-17 on 3-point attempts.
Hughes had 15 points by halftime, matching White’s total. By then, White had more points than in any of his previous four games.
The Tar Heels otherwise struggled from the field, but they hit 19 of 21 first-half free throws to keep it tight.
This was the only scheduled meeting between the teams this season. Syracuse has to return to the state of North Carolina for Saturday’s game at Wake Forest.
—Field Level Media