ACC Tournament First Round: Wake Forest vs. Syracuse

Syracuse Survives and Advances in ACC Tournament First Round Win over Wake Forest

marek dolezaj acc
The Daily Orange

The motto in March is “survive and advance” and Syracuse did exactly that with a 73-64 victory over Wake Forest in the First Round of the ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY Tuesday night.

The Orange used an 11-0 run early in the second half, capped by a layup by Paschal Chukwu, to take a 19 point lead with 8:16 remaining, but the Demon Deacons cut Syracuse’s lead to 62-56 on a made free throw by Brandon Childress with 1:58 left. The Orange used back-to-back alley-oop dunks by Chukwu and seven successful free throw attempts down the stretch to come away with the win.

Syracuse jumped out to a 20-4 lead on a layup by Chukwu with 11:44 to go in the opening stanza. Wake Forest responded by outscoring the Orange 20-10 over the remainder of the first half and Syracuse took a 30-24 lead into the break.

The Orange shot 54.8% from the field and held the Demon Deacons to just 35.9% shooting. Syracuse outrebounded Wake Forest, 34-30.

Wake Forest was led by Bryant Crawford’s 22 points and 6 assists.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Orange for the first time this season. Syracuse was led by Marek Dolezaj who poured in a career-high 20 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. Tyus Battle scored 18 points and corralled 6 rebounds before fouling out. Chukwu played well on the inside finishing with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Frank Howard added 11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Oshae Brissett tallied 10 points and collected 9 rebounds.

Jim Boeheim commented on his team’s performance in his postgame press conference. “The first we had a lot of good looks and just couldn’t make anything,” Boeheim said. “I thought the second half we attacked the zone. I thought Frank did a great job, Marek was tremendous getting into the open spots. He has been looking to score better over the last part of the year. I thought our defense was the difference. They’re [Wake Forest] a very, very good offensive team. They made fourteen threes in Syracuse the last time we played and I thought we did a much better job guarding them on the three-point line. It was a really good win.”

With the win, the Orange improved to 20-12, while Wake Forest finished their season with an 11-20 record.

Syracuse will need to rest and get set to take on North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Tournament Wednesday night at 9:30pm. The two teams met two weeks ago when the Tar Heels pulled out a 78-74 victory in the Carrier Dome. North Carolina is led by their two All-ACC First Team selections Joel Berry II and Luke Maye.

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