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Off the cuff: Coby White can do some maddening things like when he lofted a weak passe that was picked off, or when he cranked up an ill-advised three as Carolina was trying to eat clock or when he fouled a three-point shooter late in the game with a three-possession lead.

But, oh my, that freshman point guard can score. He scored 34 against Syracuse and now has three 30-point efforts to become the only freshman to accomplish that feat. J.R. Reid had two 30-plus point nights his freshman year.

He creates a few gimmes with his speed for fast break layups or driveby layups. But mainly, he shoots. He had six three-pointers against the Orange and half of those were from way out.

He also went 10 of 10 from the free throw line. Just like moving the ball up court, he doesn't waste time on the line. He takes the ball and shoots it, no dribbling and studying the rim.

He said that he found in high school that the more he dribbled, the more he thought. "I found that I shot better when I don't think," White said.

White said that when the Tar Heels are clicking, they can beat anybody. They didn't really click in the first half as they fell behind at the beginning and trailed by nine at 15-6.

Carolina did manage to tie it once in the first half but the Tar Heels didn't lead until Luke Maye came up with a steal and got it to Kenny Williams for a fast break dunk that made it 51-49 Heels just over two minutes into the second half.

"If we put two halves together we'll be really good," White said.

Tar Heels 93, Syracuse 85
Carolina's White turns Orange Blue

North Carolina freshman Coby White scored a season-high 34 points as the Tar Heels erased a halftime deficit to defeat Syracuse 93-85 at home. (2/26)

The win puts Carolina in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference by a half game over Virginia after Duke fell to Virginia Tech.

White led a 15-3 run to start the second half that changed the tenor of the game. White hit a three from the top of the key and a minute later hit a three from the left wing to start the rally and passed to Garrison Brooks for a dunk to end the run. Instead of trailing by three at 46-43, following the run, the Heels led by nine 58-49.

The Orange went on a 14-5 push themselves, mostly behind the shooting of Tyus Battle, who led Syracuse with 29 points. Just like that the game was tied at 63-all.

Carolina scored six straight including a bucket by Seventh Woods after he dribbled around like Curly Neal before going to the hoop for a bucket that made it 69-63 midway through the second half.

Syracuse cut it to two briefly but the Orange never managed to tie or take a lead. White hit hit sixth three of the game from the left side and then came up with a steal and breakaway dunk to put Carolina in control for good at 81-73.

The Carolina lead dwindled to five before the Heels got their biggest lead of 11 late.

While the Heels trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, free throw scoring and rebounding proved to be the big differences in the game. Carolina hit an amazing 34 of 37 from the line, compared to just 13 of 23 for Syracuse. It was the most free throws a Tar Heels team has hit in a game since 2013. White hit all 10 of his attempts.

Carolina, third in the nation in rebound margin, outrebounded Syracuse 46-25. Luke Maye led the way with 12 rebounds and dished out a career-high six assists.

White said UNC coach Roy Williams challenged them at the half to tighten up defensively. "We locked in defensively and it affected their rhythm," White said. Offensively, White said he was pushing the ball up court in an effort to speed them up.

Carolina cut its turnovers to nine by making the easy plays, White said. "You don't always have to go for the homerun play."

In addition to White's 34, Cam Johnson (16) and Nassir Little (11) scored in double figures for Carolina.

The Tar Heels improve to 23-5 and 13-2 in the conference while Syracuse Florida State, which had won eight ACC matchups in a row, falls to 18-10 overall and 9-6 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels travel to Clemson Saturday evening.

Box score

UNC's Coby White became the first Tar Heel freshman to score more than 30 points three times. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

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