That's exactly what he did.
"And we got a lot of success from him doing that."
With a little less than 10 minutes left in the first half is when Berry started to aggressively attack Coach Jim Boeheim's patented 2-3 zone defense. He hit a midrange jumper at the 8:31 mark and from that point on began to ignite UNC's offense.
Throughout the rest of the half he had four assists (responsible for eight points), a steal and another midrange jump shot.
While he wasn't making step-back jumpers or raining 3-pointers, Berry was a large part of the reason why UNC went on a 23-12 run over the last nine minutes of the half, helping the Tar Heels turn a 16-16 tie into a 39-28 halftime lead.
"Joel Berry did a
fantastic job penetrating the zone," said senior point guard Marcus Paige. "For a while in the first half we were just
passing it around the perimeter. And we weren’t able to get any penetration
from the dribble or from the pass.
"So we started getting in the lane and making
penetrating passes, and that’s when it allowed us to get our full team going
For Berry, part of that increased aggressiveness at the midway point in the first half came from missing 3-point shot. His first two shots of the game were missed 3-pointers, and while Paige said after the game that Syracuse's zone was the reason for poor perimeter shooting, Berry was thrown off by the altered depth perception within NRG Stadium.
"One (of my 3-point attempts) was an air ball and one barely hit the other side of the rim," Berry said. "I was like, ‘You know what, we need to get it inside,’ and so I just tried to do my best of penetrating.
"And the big men stepped up and our guys on the baseline did a great job of showing their hands."
As the team's second-leading scorer, and team-leader in 3-point percentage, it's no surprise that Berry was influential in turning around UNC's offense.
But if you didn't see the game and you only looked at the box score and saw that Berry finished with eight points — the fifth-highest total for a UNC player — you might have questioned whether he was really the offensive spark.
"Joel Berry didn’t get in double figures but he had like seven rebounds and like 10 assists," Paige said, accurately pointing out his teammate's stat line. "So that just points to the type of team we have, and it’s not a one-man show.
"And that’s why we’re here."