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Off the cuff: The win over Syracuse is Carolina's fourth win in a row and, with a 7-3 record, are nipping on the Heels of Clemson and Virginia.

The Tar Heels have a week to practice and recover from a hard-fought victory before they get a chance at revenge at home against Pittsburgh.

"We've got to get better. We'll work on us," Coach Davis said of the time off before playing again. "We'll take a deep breath and let our bodies rest as well."

R.J. Davis, whose nose and eye were busted up a bit, also dislocated a finger on his shooting hand so he'll appreciate the break.

Pete Nance was the offensive star of the game despite hitting only six of 17 shots. On a number of shots he was fouled. Nance went on to hit eight of 10 free throws. He also picked up four steals on defense.

Carolina overall free throw percentage was poor at just 61 percent as the Heels went jsut 14 of 23 from the stripe.

Meanwhile Syracuse shot over 50 percent from the field and hit eight threes to take the Heels to the final buzzer.

On that bucket after the missed free throw, Nance credited Leaky Black with keeping the ball alive before the ball wound up in Nance's hands for a winning lay in.

He added that the Heels are an experienced, veteran team that bands together and understands to never give up.

"When we come together, we're really hard to beat," Nance said. "We have momentum and confidence right now."

Hopefully the mini-break won't hinder that momentum.

Carolina 72, Syracuse 68
Bloodied Heels squeeze by Syracuse

North Carolina, who led for nearly 37 of the 40 minutes, found itself trailing in the last minute Tuesday night. UNC's Pete Nance scored with seconds left and then a banged up R.J. Davis saved the day when he took an aggressive charge that left him bloodied as Carolina won 72-68 at Syracuse. (1/24)

The Tar Heels, up by four at the half, extended the lead to 10 at 56-46 on a three from the corner by Nance. But Syracuse chipped away until Judah Mintz scored on a double clutch in the lane to give the Orange a 63-62 lead with more than four minutes to play.

The lead went back and forth but it looked bad for the Tar Heels after an Armando Bacot turnover and a three from Syracuse's Joe Girard, who had faked out Leaky Black for an open shot, with just 1:25 seconds to play, for a 68-66 Orange lead.

Each team had fruitless possessions before Nance was fouled going in for what would have been a game-tying dunk. Nance hit the first free throw but missed the second. Girard tried saving the rebound that was going out of bounds but threw it right to Nance who laid it in for a 69-68 Carolina lead with 17 seconds to go.

Mintz quickly took the ball to the hoop but elbowed and charged Davis with 10.7 to go. Davis, who had been injured already earlier in the game, was down and bloodied for several minutes.

UNC coach Hubert Davis yelled that it was the second time Mintz had clobbered Davis in the face. Officials reviewed the play and indeed added a Flagrant 1 to the foul.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told the officials that was bull excrement. With Davis out, Love shot the free throws, making one of them. The flagrant foul also gave the ball back to the Heels. Love was fouled again and he hit both free throws to wrap it up.

"R.J. has really stepped it up defensively - particularly over the last couple of games," Coach Davis said. "He took two charges that were really big. That's the kind of thing you have to do on the road against a very good team like Syracuse."

R.J. Davis missed some time earlier in the game after getting hit in the nose and then he dislocated a finger on his shooting hand before taking the late-game elbow to his eye.

It was Nance who led the way offensively with 21 points while Bacot added 18 and Love, who hit three triples early in the game, chipped in 15.

Carolina navigated the Syracuse zone well in the first half, getting up by as many as nine points but the Heels couldn't keep the hot shooting hand. After shooting nearly 52 percent in the first half, Carolina managed only 37 percent in the second half.

Syracuse, now 13-8 overall and 6-4 in the ACC, was led by Girard's 18 points and Mintz' 17 points.

Carolina, now 15-6 overall and 7-3 in the conference, doesn't play again until Feb. 1 against Pittsburgh at home.

Box score

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