Why a flashback to a seemingly random game between an unranked Orange team and a highly ranked and highly regarded Tar Heels squad? Well, this was the last time the Orange beat a top 10 team when unranked. This weekend, the unranked Orange has goes to Philly to face No. 7 Villanova.
The Orange was 3-0 going into the game, including a 22-point beat down over No. 13 California. This was a good team. Wes Johnson was in his lone season in Orange. Brandon Triche was a freshman starting at point guard. Senior Andy Rautins was a lethal shooter from outside and starting at shooting guard. Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson were forces down low. And Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph gave Jim Boeheim valuable minutes off the bench.
UNC had some nice pieces, but really wasn’t all that good. The Tar Heels had a young Tyler Zeller, who played just 16 minutes against the Orange. John Henson also came off the bench for Roy Williams, but he played just 7 minutes. And Ed Davis is the only Tar Heel starter of note from this game, and he went for 16 points and 10 rebounds.
That day in the Garden, the Orange was led by transfer phenom Wes Johnson, who poured in 25 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. He ended up powering the team from an offensive standpoint for much of the year, and through the team’s Tournament run that ended with a Sweet 16 loss to Butler, who would play for the National Championship that year. The Orange wouldn’t lose its first game that season until January 2nd against Pitt.
UNC lead the Orange 39-37 at the half, but the Orange went on a 22-1 run in the second half to take a 59-40 lead and SU never looked back. This game snapped UNC’s 44 game non-conference winning streak.
The Orange was unranked to begin the 2009-2010 season, and remained that way until this win over UNC in the 2K Classic. After the game, the Orange catapulted from unranked to 10th in the AP poll. UNC on the other hand turned out not to be nearly as good as its high early season ranking, finishing ACC play with a 5-11 record and losing in the NIT championship game to Dayton.
Posted: Seth Goldberg