NEW YORK — A familiar lineup for Syracuse came to its rescue in the second half of the Orange’s 69-63 win on Friday as SU won the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Tip Off Classic.
Kris Joseph, CJ Fair, Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche and Fab Melo played all of the key minutes for Syracuse as it turned a 55-47 deficit with 6:47 left into a 61-60 lead four minutes later. It was the same lineup that played the majority of the second half of Syracuse’s 69-58 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
“That’s our best offensive lineup right now,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They’re pretty good on defense, too.”
The Orange was able to change the momentum of the game when it switched to a full court press with around six minutes left. Syracuse was able to force three steals on four Stanford possessions, and Joseph scored nine straight SU points. He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
“We pressed and I got two baskets off of our press,” Joseph said. “From there, it was all about heart at that point for our team in the last six minutes of the game.”
Still, the Cardinal kept the pressure on the Orange, and led by six points after Chasson Randle hit a pair of free throws with 4:27 left.
SU responded with a 10-0 run, and came within a point of the lead after Triche intercepted a pass that led to Fair hitting a layup plus a foul.
“Our press definitely helped us get a few steals,” Joseph said. “It helps us tremendously beacuse we know where the next pass is going to be going, and if we get just get in the lane, and anticipate that pass, we’ll get steals, and that’s what we did.”
On the ensuing possession, Joseph nailed a jumper to give SU its first lead of the second half.
From there, Waiters capped the run with a conventional 3-point play to give SU a 64-60 lead with 2:08 left, and the Orange never relinquished the lead.
It was a similar story on Wednesday, when the same lineup turned a 42-39 deficit with 13:29 left into an 11-point win.
“Tonight, we went with the same lineup and the results were the same,” Joseph said. “We played well, we played hard and we came up with the win.”