NEW YORK — In the second half of the 2K Sports Classic Championship game, Marcus Ginyard needed a moment.
North Carolina’s senior wing took a hard shot to the side from a Syracuse player with about 16 minutes to play. During the next timeout, he crouched on the floor in pain and was subbed out.
Such a moment epitomized Syracuse’s (4-0) 87-71 win over UNC (4-1) on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
“Marcus got whacked, and we took him out,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “They were already whacking us pretty good when we took him out.”
When Ginyard left, the Tar Heels were down by seven. When he returned with 13:19 to play, the deficit was 12. It would eventually balloon to 19 as part of a 20-1 Syracuse run to open the half.
“I don’t think we could have played a worse half of basketball,” Williams said. “I sure hope we can’t.”
During the first 7:58 of the half, UNC missed 13 straight shots and had five turnovers. The Orange, on the other hand, shot 62.9 percent in the second half and made 22 field goals.
“We just got in a rut,” Williams said. “It was a snowball effect.”
In a game where not much went right for UNC, Ginyard and Ed Davis led the team with 15 and 16 points, respectively. Ginyard eventually spearheaded a run to cut the deficit to eight points.
But Syracuse always had an answer in the form of Wesley Johnson, who had a career-high 25 points, or Andy Rautins, who had 11 points and three buckets made from beyond the arc. The Orange had swagger and a shooting touch to match, and Rautins and Johnson found the mark from downtown seven of 16 times.
“That was one of the better halves we have played down here,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think offensively we played as well as we can play.”
Boeheim had plenty to be proud of. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense limited both the passing lanes and the space for North Carolina’s touted front line to go to work, and the Tar Heels were bullied out of the paint all night.
“It’s that 2-3 zone,” Deon Thompson (11 points, seven rebounds) said after the game. “I mean, give credit — that’s one of the best zones in college basketball. I’ve never seen Syracuse play anything but that.”
That zone limited the touches for Davis and Thompson. Davis had 13 points at halftime, but was covered in a blanket of Orange for the final 20 minutes, and had only 3 points in the second period.
“You have to get back against Roy’s teams, that’s what they do,” Boeheim said. “We got back better, made them shoot from the outside, they’re not a great three-point shooting team.”
For the game, UNC shot just 38 percent. Coming into the game UNC was shooting 55 percent and 39 percent from beyond the arc. But against the zone of the athletic Orange defenders, UNC shot a paltry 25 percent from deep for the game.
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