What happened to North Carolina's defense?

Syracuse catches fire in win vs. No. 7 Tar Heels. Plus, Indiana State's rough entry into the Top 25, Virginia's setback, bubble trouble and much more.

The first significant night of college basketball since football ended sure had plenty to discuss.

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1. North Carolina’s feeling blue

Tuesday just isn’t North Carolina’s day. For the third consecutive Tuesday, the Heels lost, the latest being last night’s 86-79 defeat at Syracuse.

The Orange started the game on a heater, leading by 10 at the under-12 timeout, then again in the second half when they forced No. 7 UNC to miss its first 10 shots of the second half.

It rallied for a 1-point lead with 7 to play, but Syracuse (16-9, 7-7 in ACC) made big defensive plays (it forced back-to-back turnovers with less than two minutes left) and never let the Heels (19-6, 11-3) get comfy on the road. It shot 47.5% from the field, and its defense was lacking all night.

“We didn’t play well enough to win, we've just got to get better,” said North Carolina coach Hubert Davis. “They shot 63% from field. Very few teams in the country you can beat especially on the road when they shoot that well.”

Credit Cuse guards JJ Starling and Judah Mintz, who combined for 48 points on 17-of-26 shooting.

The Orange looked rough in the past four games, losing three and beating Louisville by two in the other. Coach Adrian Autry even apologized to Cuse fans for his team's performance following a 29-point drubbing vs. Wake Forest. And now? It’s the team's first AP Top-10 win since 2019.

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