DALLAS (AP) — A double-digit loss for Syracuse, the double-digit seed that made it to the Final Four.
No big comeback like the No. 10 seed Orange had to get to this far, and the end of coach Jim Boeheim’s 39th season with an 83-66 loss to North Carolina on Saturday night.
Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson each had 16 points as the Tar Heels beat their ACC rival for the third time this season, this time to get into their 10th national championship game. North Carolina, the only No. 1 seed to get to Houston, plays Monday night against Villanova after the Wildcats’ 95-51 romp over Oklahoma in the first national semifinal game.
Syracuse (23-14) had already beaten a No. 1 seed, overcoming a 16-point deficit right after halftime in a 68-62 win over Virginia six days earlier.
But the Orange could never get on a run against North Carolina (33-6) like the 25-4 deciding spurt they had against the Cavaliers.
Trevor Cooney had 22 points for Syracuse, and three times in the final 9 minutes made shots that got the Orange within 10 points or less. North Carolina responded each time.
The fourth double-digit seed to make it to the Final Four, Syracuse also failed to get to the championship. The 1986 LSU Tigers, 2006 George Mason Patriots and the 2011 VCU Rams all also lost their semifinal games.
North Carolina won all tournament games by at least 14 points, and was up 57-40 with 12:28 left before an announced crowd of 75,505 at NGR Stadium.
Cooney hit a 3-pointer with 8:44 left that made it 62-53, but Theo Pinson then hit a 3-pointer for the Tar Heels.
Malachi Richardson, the freshman who had 21 second-half points against Virginia, had a layup that cut the gap to 10 again, only for Marcus Paige to make a 3-pointer.
After 3 by Cooney with 3:48 made it a 10-point game again, Justin Jackson had a dunk for North Carolina. Cooney made another layup, and it was 74-64 — the closest Syracuse would get. Paige, who finished with 15 points, then made another 3.
Cooney finished 9-of-18 shooting with four 3-pointers. Richardson had 17 points and Michael Gbinije had 12 on 5-of-18 shooting before fouling out with 1:25 to go.
Kennedy Meeks had 15 points for North Carolina, while Paige had 13.
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