Syracuse Shoots past Wake Forest
Syracuse avenged an earlier loss to Wake Forest with a 78-70 win in front of a crowd of 24,018 on Sunday at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but Wake Forest connected on four consecutive three pointers to pull within six with 9:42 to go. The Orange extended their lead to 10, 65-55, but an 8-0 run by the Demon Deacons pulled them to within two with 4:24 remaining. A successful free throw by Oshae Brissett gave Syracuse a 73-68 lead with 49 seconds left, but Wake Forest refused to go away easily as Keyshawn Woods drained a trey to pull the Demon Deacons to within four. With the Orange leading 74-70, Tyus Battle sunk two free throws. A thunderous block by Paschal Chukwu, led to a run out and a dunk by Battle to provide the final margin of victory for Syracuse.
The Syracuse defense held Wake Forest to 43.6% shooting, but the Demon Deacons lit it up from deep—drilling 10 three pointers. The Orange forced the Demon Deacons into 14 turnovers, including 8 steals.
Syracuse shot 46% from the field and 50% (6-of-12) from three, but struggled from the charity stripe. The Orange converted on just 26-of-39 (66.7%) of their attempts—well below their season average of 72.3%.
Wake Forest outrebounded Syracuse 38-29 in their win in Winston-Salem, NC in January, but the Orange won the battle on the glass 35-32 on Sunday.
The Demon Deacons were led by Bryant Crawford who scored 24 points and dished out 7 assists.
Syracuse was led by Battle who scored a game-high 34 points on 10-of-18 from the field (including 3-of-4 from deep) and 11-of-13 from the free throw line. Battle also grabbed 4 rebounds and distributed 4 assists. Brissett posted his eighth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Frank Howard came up one assist shy of a double-double as he finished with 12 points, 9 assists, and 5 steals. Chukwu added 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots in the win.
Marek Dolezaj started his fifth consecutive game after Matthew Moyer suffered an ankle injury in the win over Boston College and poured in 6 points. Moyer did not play on Sunday as the injury is still bothering him.
Bourama Sidibe received an injection of plasma rich platelets a week ago to help ease the pain caused by his ongoing complications with tendinitis in his left knee. Sidibe logged 17 minutes and 4 points.
With a dwindling bench, former walk-on, Braedon Bayer, played four minutes in the opening stanza as Dolezaj went to the bench after picking up his second foul. Bayer finished with 2 rebounds.
Jim Boeheim commented on his team’s performance in his postgame press conference. “I though the defense was the best it’s been all year,” Boeheim said. “If we just make our free throws we win by 10 or 12 points. Tyus just made big plays and Frank made a big play to Paschal at the end and that was the difference.”
With the win, the Orange improved to 17-8 overall, 6-6 in the ACC, while Wake Forest fell to 9-16 on the season, 2-11 in conference play.
Syracuse will return to action on Valentine’s Day when they host North Carolina State in a primetime “Bubble” match-up at 9pm. The Wolfpack are 16-9 overall and 6-6 in the ACC. North Carolina State has been a giant-killer this season. The Wolfpack have wins over Arizona (neutral site), Duke, Clemson, and at North Carolina. North Carolina State suffered a 96-89 loss to North Carolina at home on Saturday. The Wolfpack are led by Allerik Freeman who is averaging 14.1 points and 4 rebounds per game. Last year, the Orange came away with a 100-93 overtime win on the road.