Saturday afternoon, #22 Syracuse withstood a late barrage of three-point shooting to hold off North Florida and claim a 77-71 win at the Carrier Dome, snapping a two-game slide. The Orange (5-2) used a strong start to the second half to build a 24-point lead with just over a dozen minutes left, but the Ospreys (3-7) hit 5-of-6 threes in the game’s final six minutes to draw within five points. SU hit a few free throws and clamped down on defense enough to pull out the win from there.
The visitors were not the only team to sizzle from deep, as Syracuse hit 13 three pointers on the day, led by Andrew White III’s seven triples. North Florida rallied late, but still hit only 28.2 percent of their threes, making only 11 of 39 hoists from beyond the arc. The Ospreys chased down a lot of long rebounds from all those missed threes, taking a 41-33 rebounding advantage on the strength of 17 offensive boards.
In contrast to their last two games, the Orange were effective on offense, making 48 percent of their shots from the field and getting 20 assists on their 25 field goals. SU also forced 14 turnovers, including grabbing ten steals, and converted them into 24 points.
Andrew White III hit a three to give the Orange a lead they would not give up just over a minute into the game, but the two squads played closely for the first seven minutes of the game. SU then opened things up with eight straight points in under 90 seconds to take an early double-digit lead.
Tyus Battle, who started the game in place of Tyler Roberson, knocked down a three from the left wing, then Frank Howard dropped in a pair of foul shots. White III added another three from just to the right of the top of the key for a 17-7 Syracuse lead with just over eight minutes elapsed, resulting in a North Florida timeout.
Less than two minutes later, the Orange nudged their lead out to 11 points on a Tyler Lydon two-handed slam in transition. However, their offense went into the cooler for the next 6:40, allowing the Ospreys to claw back into the game with seven straight points.
With SU holding a 20-16 lead, Howard got heavily involved in the offense for the closing minutes of the half. First, he faked and found White III in the left corner for a three to get the Orange offense running, then stepped into a bomb of his own. Howard then set up DaJuan Coleman for a short jumper from the right baseline to get the Orange on top by nine.
Not done yet, Howard finished some team-wide ball movement by finding White III for another three from the left side, then drove and dished to Lydon in the right corner for a triple just before the halftime horn. The barrage gave Syracuse a 34-23 halftime lead.
The Orange came out firing in the second half. Howard tipped a pass and fed Battle for a run-out dunk for the first two points of the session. White III got the first free throw of a set, then a three when Lydon rebounded his miss on the second try and found him behind the arc.
After a North Florida score, White III added a lay-up and Lydon a foul shot of his own. Howard pushed the tempo off a steal and found Battle for a triple and a 46-25 SU lead less than three-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
The guests chipped a few points off the margin, but the Orange posted an 8-1 run to take their biggest lead of the day at 24. White III drained a stepback jumper from the left side, then Howard found Coleman rolling to the bucket for a dunk. After each side added a free throw, Battle curled off a screen into a right wing three-pointer and Syracuse owned a 56-32 lead with just over 12 minutes to go.
North Florida ate into the lead, needing just under three minutes to peel off a 12-2 run to get within 58-44. A couple minutes later, the Ospreys got hot from deep, employing a trio of treys for the bulk of an 11-2 run, drawing them within 66-58 with 4:29 showing on the clock.
Coleman buried a 17-footer to stop the bleeding for the Orange. Following another North Florida three, Coleman posted up for a three-point-play for a 71-61 Syracuse lead.
Four straight Osprey points got the gap to six, but Battle was fouled on a drive and knocked down both shots to make it 73-65. North Florida got another three to get within five, but Howard made three-of-four charity shots over two possessions to push the lead out to 76-68 with 37 ticks remaining, giving SU enough of a cushion to hang on for the win.
Andrew White III rolled up 26 points, hitting five of his seven threes in the first half. In his first start for the Orange, Tyus Battle went 6-of-7 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, en route to a personal-best 19 points. DaJuan Coleman also had a career-high with 15 points. Frank Howard had his second double-double, complimenting his ten points with a personal-best 13 assists, and also had four steals.
Dallas Moore was a force for North Florida, leading all scorers with 30 points, including 22 in the second half as the driving force of their rally. Nick Malonga had a dozen points and Wajid Aminu also had a double-double, finishing with ten points and ten boards, seven of them on the offensive end.
SU will travel to New York City for their next game, a neutral-court showdown with former Big East rival Connecticut at Madison Square Garden on Monday. The Huskies have had a bumpy start, standing 3-4 on the season after holding off Boston University on Wednesday, 51-49.
ESPN2 will televise the game, which will get underway at 7:00pm Eastern. The contest will also be streaming online at and ESPN3.com.