SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Theo Pinson scored a career-high 23 points, Joel Berry II added 18, including the tiebreaking layup with 1:36 left, and No. 10 North Carolina held off Syracuse 78-74 on Wednesday night.
North Carolina (22-7, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won six straight, but this was the most difficult against a team fighting for its postseason life. Syracuse (18-10, 7-8) was coming off an important road victory over Miami and was teetering on the NCAA Tournament bubble entering the game.
Sterling Manley had 12 points and top scorer Luke Maye had nine points and just three rebounds
Tyus Battle scored 26 points, Frank Howard had 23, and Oshae Brissett had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse, the 10th double-double of his freshman year.
UNC built a double-digit lead early and every time Syracuse threatened the Tar Heels had an answer. Berry hit a 3 after Battle's drive had made it a one-possession game, 51-48 with 14:33 left. When Paschal Chukwu lost an offensive rebound seconds later, Pinson roared in for a slam at the other end.
Pinson's three-point play midway through the half gave UNC a 61-51 lead, but the Orange weren't through.
Battle's driving layup moved Syracuse back within 68-64 with 6:32 to go as the season-high crowd of 27,165, largest in the nation this season, shook the Carrier Dome walls.
Another 3 by Berry gave UNC an eight-point edge before the Orange made a final push with an eight-point run to knot the score. Battle scored six of the points, his jumper with 3:05 to go tying it at 74.
After Berry put the Tar Heels ahead, he missed a 3-point attempt from the top of the key, giving the Orange the ball with 32.6 seconds left.
Howard missed a 3-pointer with 17.2 seconds left and Berry's two free throws iced it.
Carolina had scored 90 or more points 10 times, three times in previous five games.