CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- On the way to securing victory No. 800 as a college coach, North Carolina's Roy Williams liked one in particular.
"It was never a dream of mine to win 800 games," Williams said after the ninth-ranked Tar Heels defeated Syracuse 85-68 on Monday night. "But it was a dream to coach guys like this. What I really love is No. 17 for his team."
Isaiah Hicks scored 20 points and North Carolina used relentless offensive rebounding to help Williams reach a milestone at the Smith Center.
Afterward, a video tribune to Williams included recorded comments from his former players at Kansas and North Carolina.
"We did some nice things and ended up winning, so it was a fantastic night," he said.
Williams, who has an 800-212 record in 29 seasons, became the ninth Division I coach to reach 800 victories. One of those coaches on the short list is Syracuse's Jim Boeheim.
"If you look at what he has done, he's one of the very best coaches to have ever coached in college," Boeheim said. "There's no debate about that and he doesn't need me to say that."
North Carolina collected 18 offensive rebounds as part of a 44-24 rebounding edge. The Tar Heels were credited with 20 points off offensive rebounds.
"It's one thing Coach conditions us," Hicks said. "Crash hard. We want to more possessions than the other team."
Boeheim said, "We know we're going to get beat on the boards coming in here, but it was a little bit too much to overcome. When you make a couple of mistakes against them, they take advantage of it. They have tremendous experience and size."
Tyler Lydon poured in 26 points, Andrew White had 15 and Tyus Battle added 13 for Syracuse (11-8, 3-3), which won three of its previous four games.
The Orange began the second half on a 12-3 run before the Tar Heels scored on five of six possessions for a 57-46 edge.
After Syracuse missed a 3-point attempt that would have cut the gap to four points, the Tar Heels notched two quick baskets for a 70-59 lead.
"We got off to a bad start and recovered well," Boeheim said. "A lot of things well except defensive rebounding. ... I thought we played the best we played all year on the road. It doesn't look like it by the final score."
Several times the Orange had shots that would have closed the gap to within two possessions only to have North Carolina respond to push the margin back to double figures.
After White missed a dunk, Jackson converted a three-point play at the other end for a 79-64 lead with 3:36 left.
North Carolina used a burst late in the half for a 42-30 lead at the break after threatening to pull away in the opening minutes.
Hicks and Meeks both had 12 first-half points as the Tar Heels dominated at times in the lane. North Carolina gathered 13 offensive rebounds in the first half compared with Syracuse's 10 total rebounds.
Syracuse scored on the game's first possession and North Carolina followed with the next 12 points. The Orange recovered to pull within 16-14 midway through the half.
NOTES: North Carolina defeated Syracuse three times last season, including in the Final Four semifinals. ... North Carolina freshman C Tony Bradley missed his second game after sustaining a concussion Wednesday at Wake Forest. ... North Carolina senior F Isaiah Hicks has notched consecutive 20-point games for the first time in his career. ... Earlier Monday, Tar Heels G Joel Berry was named Player of the Week in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the fourth time this season. ... North Carolina began the night leading the country with a plus-14.1 rebounding margin. ... Syracuse faces another nationally ranked team with Saturday's game at Notre Dame. North Carolina plays Saturday at Boston College.