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Off the cuff: Not even ESPN's heavy-handed commentary revolving around Martin Luther King Day, which evidently is a weekend and a day now, or cutting off the last two minutes to show the beginning of another game, could ruin the Tar Heels' impressive win over Syracuse.

Certainly mentioning MLK Day is appropriate just as mentioning Christmas is appropriate on Dec. 23 but the political correctness or wokeness was dominate.

For instance, in a video package at the start of the broadcast, they showed Black Lives Matter protesting during the George Floyd death era. Martin Luther King would not be in favor of the Marxism on parade and the resulting violence.

Second, as soon as the commentators start to talk, play-by-play man Dave O'Brien literally says "Two black coaches will lead their teams today," he said. "It's wonderful to know that it's not a headline anymore."

Huh, they just made it the headline and then said it's not a headline anymore.

Then, every chance they got, they showed black people in the stands like they were Zulus being shown in an old National Geographic magazine. Talk about racist, or at least being heavy-handed in making a point.

Then they showed a tattoo on RJ Davis' leg, talking about Martin Luther King but admitting that it is Malcolm X pictured and noting that the two only met once. Malcolm X was the antithesis of King in the 1960s - one pursing peace and one pursuing violence. Unlike MLK, Malcolm X opposed integration with white America. It was a totally inappropriate moment to show the tattoo and talk about it if they don't know the facts.

As for switching the game at the end, you never switch a game in progress. If you must, you start the new game on another ESPN channel. Instead, they switched those watching the Carolina-Syracuse game to another channel. Too bad if you were recording the game, don't have ESPNews or couldn't get to it quick enough to see the excitement of seldom-used players getting the team over the 100-scoring mark.

That was bush league of ESPN. In a game that was virtually over by the half, the excitement rested in seeing subs perform and trying to reach the century mark. (I really don't think many people take advantage of the buy one sausage biscuit get one free deal at Bojangles.)

After ESPN switched away, Carolina first-year player James Okonkwo sank two free throws putting the home crowd in a frenzy as the Heels went up 100-67 with 1:39 to play.

If you thought that was the last big ovation, you'd be wrong as almost never-used Rob Landry drilled a three with just over a minute left.

I've said this before as Roy Williams did the same thing, but Coach Davis called off the dogs with 25 seconds to go. While that woulid be understandable if the starters were on the court but these guys almost never get to play. They work hard in practice preparing the eight or so that normally play. Let them have the chance to play. They aren't looking at the score, they want to score and play well.

Creighton Lebo had a chance for a three from the right corner in front of the bench but you could see Coach Davis waving him off. Coach Davis is wearing a jacket this year in honor of Coach Dean Smith but he's not doing what Coach Smith did. He let his second and third team play just like they do in practice. They deserve it.

Carolina 103, Syracuse 67
UNC runs past Syracuse impressively

(Photo by UNC Sports Information)

Five North Carolina players scored in double figures as the Tar Heels ran past Syracuse, beating the Orange by the widest margin in history between the two schools, 103-67. (1/13)

Playing at home for the first time in two weeks, the Heels put on a show for the fans, leading by 22 points at the half and getting up by as many as 39 points in the second half.

RJ Davis led the way with 22 points and a career-high five steals but two players managed double-doubles. In only 16 minutes, Armando Bacot came up with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Harrison Ingram followed suit with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Jalen Washington with 11 and Jae'lyn Withers with 10 rounded out the double-figure scoring.

But it was once again the defense that most impressed UNC coach Hubert Davis. "Defensively, we were really good," Coach Davis said, pointing to the team's 13 steals and 53-30 rebounding edge.

Offensively, Carolina scored 58 points in the paint compared to just 32 for Syracuse. "We want to dominate points in the paint," Coach Davis said. "We didn't settle for the jump shot - we worked inside out."

Appropriately, the Tar Heels got their first double-digit lead when Washington rebounded a miss and put it in to put Carolina up 17-7. A nice pass inside from Elliott Cadeau to Ingram gave the Heels a 20-point lead at 36-16.

After surving a 9-0 run early in the second half, the Tar Heels worked the lead up to 30 at 73-43 on a three from Davis from the left corner. The largest lead of the game came with 8:37 to go when Washington sank a pair of free throws to make it 90-51.

Various subs played the last eight minutes as Carolina had a hard time scoring 10 points in those eight minutes to reach the century mark.

Judah Mintz finished with 21 points to lead Syracuse, now 11-5 overall and 2-3 in the ACC, but he took 17 shots to get there.

The Tar Heels improve to 13-3 overall and 5-0 in the ACC with a home game coming up Wednesday against Louisville.

Box score

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