#3 Syracuse got a late tip-in credited to C.J. Fair on Monday afternoon to complete a comeback and win their second straight nailbiter, edging #21 Cincinnati at the Carrier Dome, 57-55. The basket, which gave the Orange (18-1, 6-0 Big East) their first lead in the game’s final 17 minutes, capped a 9-1 run to close the game.
SU owes a lot of credit for the victory to their tough defense, as they held the Bearcats (16-4, 4-3) to a mere 32.7 percent shooting day. Syracuse, in contrast, shot 46 percent from the field and turned the ball over only six times en route to their school record 35thconsecutive home win, which is also the longest streak in the country.
Cincinnati got out to a 9-5 lead in the game’s opening four minutes, but the Orange clamped down on defense at that point, not allowing a score for nearly ten minutes. During that span, Syracuse was unable to accomplish much on offense, either, but did manage the next ten points of the day to take a 15-9 lead with under seven minutes left in the opening half.
SU nudged their lead out to seven a couple minutes later, but the Bearcats scored the next five points to get within 20-18 with just under two minutes on the clock. The Orange got a basket shortly after, but that was the lone score before the horn, giving Syracuse a 22-18 halftime lead.
Cincinnati wiped out that lead with scores on their first two possessions, then continued to play well, opening the half with a 15-4 run to take a 33-26 lead. Shortly after, Syracuse struck back with seven unanswered points to tie the game at 36 a side. After the game was tied at 38 at the midpoint of the second half, the Bearcats scored six points to trigger an 11-4 burst to take a 49-42 lead. The visitors held off SU for a couple minutes, but the Orange did not allow them a field goal in the game’s final 3:45 to wipe out a 54-48 deficit.
The Orange also scored on three straight possessions, capped by a Michael Carter-Williams three-pointer, to tie the game at 55. Following a Cincinnati turnover and a time out, Jerami Grant could not connect on a drive, but C.J. Fair was credited for a basket on a tip-in to put SU up, 57-55, with 13 seconds left. Following a Bearcat miss, the visitors fouled twice, the second one sending Brandon Triche to the stripe for a one-and-one. He missed the first free throw, but Cincinnati’s desperation heave was not close, sealing the win for Syracuse.
Michael Carter-Williams scored 16 points to top SU. C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche each scored 13 points in the contest. Trevor Cooney chipped in with eight points and collected four steals.
Saturday morning, the Orange will deal with an early wake-up call as they finish their home-and-home series against Villanova in Philadelphia. The Wildcats (11-7, 2-3) have dropped three in a row, a string started by their 72-61 loss at the hands of the Orange, and face #5 Louisville before the rematch. The action gets underway at 11 a.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.Jim Stechschulte