The trio has had a dominant run in their four years at UNC — tallying 108 wins — but it won’t be until their final game together that the three players will have a chance to fulfill a goal. A dream. A destiny?
The Tar Heels wouldn’t have gotten in the Final Four without the play of the seniors. When the Orange inched closer, they answered. They weren’t going to let the ride end just yet.
First, it was Johnson who stepped up.
Syracuse was leading 16-14 when Nate Britt shot a 3-pointer that hit the front iron and rocketed into the air. Johnson didn’t even give the ball time to start its descent, flying in for a putback dunk to start a 25-12 run to take a double-digit lead into halftime.
“I think any time Brice dunks, the crowd gets electric,” Justin Jackson said. “Momentum can definitely shift your way when big dunks happen.”
And it did just that. Even though the Tar Heels let the Orange draw closer, Syracuse never retook the lead.
Next up, Joel James.
The 6-foot-11 senior came in and was instant offense. Yes, you read that right. James, known for his defensive intensity and ability to play tough down low, provided a spark on the offensive unit.