In what's likely a dismaying development for the rest of the ACC, Syracuse has turned into one of the best defensive teams in the country in the past two weeks.
The second-ranked Orange will try to remain stingy and improve to 17-0 Monday night as they hit the road to take on Boston College.Syracuse (16-0, 3-0) has allowed an average of 47.3 points and 37.1 percent shooting in its last four games, using the latest of those efforts to get past visiting North Carolina 57-45 on Saturday.The Orange shot a season-low 35.0 percent and went 4 of 19 from 3-point range, but held the Tar Heels to their fewest points in a game in 17 seasons. UNC shot 39.2 percent and was 2 of 12 from beyond the arc."This was a defensive-effort game," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got loose balls. We made a lot of really good hustle plays. We got on the floor. That was the difference."C.J. Fair paced Syracuse with 20 points, and Jerami Grant recorded back-to-back double-doubles for the first time this season with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds."I think today was one of the first games we really played defense for 40 minutes," sophomore guard Trevor Cooney said. "That was good to see, especially against a good team like UNC. And to beat good teams like that you really need to play defense for 40 minutes. I thought we did a great job of that."Syracuse will next face a team that's 11th in the ACC in scoring at 70.8 per game and last in points allowed, surrendering an average of 75.2. Boston College (5-11, 1-2), though, performed well enough to earn its first league win Saturday, 62-59 at Virginia Tech.Junior guard Lonnie Jackson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds left and finished with a season-high 17 points while making five shots from beyond the arc. The ACC's second-leading scorer, Olivier Hanlan (19.5 ppg), was the only other Eagle in double figures with 14 points."Boston College has lost a lot of games, but they have lost games by one or two points. You don't know what's going to happen, if you don't bring your game you're going to have a tough time," Boeheim said. "We played a good road game against Virginia Tech, and I hope that happens when we play Boston College."The Eagles have suffered four losses by four points or fewer, including their only other matchup with a ranked team this season. Boston College fell 72-70 to then-No. 18 Connecticut on Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden.The Eagles have lost 17 of their last 18 games against Top 25 opponents and eight in a row since a 64-60 victory over No. 15 Florida State on Feb. 8, 2012.The Orange are the highest-ranked team BC has faced since an 83-63 loss to No. 2 Wake Forest on Jan. 14, 2009.Boston College has won four of six over Syracuse, but it was the No. 6 team in country during its most recent matchup, a 65-60 victory against the No. 9 Orange in Boston on Feb. 19, 2005 -- the Eagles' final season in the Big East.