(Updated 4/3/2016) Senior guard Marcus Paige scored 13 points and hit some timely shots from deep to help the No. 1 seed University of North Carolina Tar Heels pull away with an 83-66 win over the No. 10 seed Syracuse Orangemen in the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on April 2 in Houston, Texas.
North Carolina guard Marcus Paige (5) leaps toward the goal as Syracuse forward Michael Gbinije (0) gives chase during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
UNC was simply too big, too strong and too deep of a team for Syracuse to compete with, but the Orangemen did manage to keep the score tight for the first 12 minutes of action. But that’s when the depth of the Tar Heels took over as bench players like junior forward Isaiah Hicks and sophomore forward Theo Pinson proved too good for Syracuse. Hicks and Pinson combined for 11 points and nine rebounds.
Syracuse made a run in the second half and cut the Tar Heels lead to just 57-50 after a jumper from Orangemen freshman guard Malachi Richardson. But Paige responded with a clutch three-pointer to push the lead back to double-digits. UNC maintained a comfortable lead from that point forward.
Four UNC players scored double digits in points, including senior forward Bryce Johnson with 16. Sophomore forward Justin Jackson also scored 16 and junior forward Kennedy Meeks added 15.
Senior guard Trevor Cooney led Syracuse with 22 points and Richardson followed with 17.
UNC advances on to its 10th National Championship finals appearance, where it will face No. 2 seed Villanova for the title on Monday, April 4.
Villanova put on a perfect performance to humiliate No. 2 Oklahoma with a 95-51 thrashing in earlier Final Four action Saturday. Junior guard Josh Hart scored a game-high 23 points to lead six different Villanova players who scored double digits. Meanwhile, Oklahoma had easily its worst shooting performance of the season and National Player of the Year prospect Buddy Hield was strapped up and contained to just nine points on four-of-12 shooting from the field, one-of-eight shots made from the three-point arc.