CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams earned his 800th career victory when Isaiah Hicks scored 20 points to lead No. 9 North Carolina to an 85-68 victory over Syracuse on Monday night.
Kennedy Meeks added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Tar Heels (17-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 52 percent and dominated the boards. UNC never trailed after the game’s opening possession, led 42-30 at halftime and then stayed a step ahead of the hot-shooting Orange after the break.
Syracuse (11-8, 3-3) got as close as three early in the second half, but never pushed ahead. The Tar Heels ultimately ran off a 7-0 flurry in the final 5 minutes to stretch the lead back out to 15.
The win made Williams just the ninth Division I coach to reach 800 wins.
Tyler Lydon scored 26 points for the Orange.
Syracuse: The Orange had won three of four since opening league play with a loss at Boston College, but they got behind and couldn’t erase the gap even after spending the first 10 minutes of the second half shooting better than 70 percent. Syracuse finished the game shooting 44 percent and hit 10 of 24 3-point attempts.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels played their second straight game without freshman big man Tony Bradley Jr. due to a concussion, but the duo of Meeks and Hicks took care of the frontcourt production, with Hicks hitting the 20-point mark in consecutive games for the first time in his career. UNC has now won five straight since its head-scratching loss at Georgia Tech in its ACC opener.
Syracuse: The Orange visit No. 15 Notre Dame on Saturday.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels travel to Boston College on Saturday.