CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Coby White scored a career-high 34 points and fifth-ranked North Carolina pulled away late to beat Syracuse 93-85 on Tuesday night.
Cameron Johnson added 16 points for the Tar Heels (23-5, 13-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 11 of 12 games and own their highest AP Top 25 ranking of the season.
UNC led by three with 7:49 left before coming up with a 7-0 burst to push the margin to 83-73, though the Tar Heels couldn’t land a finishing blow and had to fight to protect their lead into the final minute.
The Tar Heels shot just 40 percent but made 34 of 37 free throws (92 percent) while dominating the glass and finishing with 18 offensive rebounds.
Tyus Battle scored 23 of his 29 points after halftime for the Orange (18-10, 9-6), who shot 48 percent and made 13 of 23 3-pointers.
Syracuse: The Orange hadn’t had an easy schedule of late, with the trip to UNC marking their third straight game against a ranked opponent and a second in a row versus a team in the top five. Syracuse had also alternated wins and losses since the start of February. The Orange jumped to a nine-point first-half lead and led 46-43 at the break behind hot shooting from Elijah Hughes (all 15 of his points came in the first half) before UNC took over with a 15-3 run to start the second half.
UNC: The Tar Heels entered the night in a three-way tie atop the league with No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke (which lost at No. 20 Virginia Tech), and stayed hot even on an unconventional offensive night. As for White, the point guard is the first UNC freshman ever to have three 30-point games in a season as he surpassed his previous high mark of 33 points set against Texas and Miami.
Syracuse: The Orange has another game in the state, this one at Wake Forest on Saturday.
UNC: The Tar Heels travel to Clemson on Saturday.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap