The patient may not have been saved, but its vital signs looked a lot better Wednesday night as Syracuse put forth a great defensive effort and withstood a second half Miami run before pulling away for a 70-55 win at the Carrier Dome Wednesday night. The Orange (9-6, 1-1 ACC) saw a ten-point lead get whittled to a single point, but responded with nine straight points to regain control over the Hurricanes (11-3, 1-1), then pulled away in the closing minutes.
SU was frenetic at times on defense, hustling to close out on open shooters, then recover in the paint. The effort resulted in the ‘Canes shooting under 39 percent for the game. On offense, Syracuse was brutally efficient, hitting on 68 percent (17-of-25) of their two-point field goals. That efficiency opened up good looks for outside shooters, as they made 8-of-19 three pointers.
Perhaps most notable was a new, tighter rotation for SU. John Gillon replaced Frank Howard at point guard in the starting lineup and head coach Jim Boeheim made a grand total of four substitutions. Taurean Thompson started and was quickly lifted for Tyler Roberson in each half after logging less than five minutes total. Howard and DaJuan Coleman only made very brief cameos late in the first half, with the former seeing 65 seconds of play and the latter even less.
The Orange got off to a quick start, as Andrew White III hit a pair of jumpers to trigger an early 6-3 lead, but Miami ran off seven straight points for a four-point edge. Syracuse fought back to tie the score twice, but the Hurricanes were able to reinstate their four-point lead at 21-17 just after the midpoint of the first half.
SU responded with eight straight points to trigger a 15-3 run. Tyler Lydon drained a three just to the right of the top of the key, then White coaxed in a wide-open three from the left wing in transition to put the Orange in front. Tyus Battle got a runner in the lane to fall for a 25-21 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half.
Miami responded with a three-pointer for their only points in a span of nine minutes, but Syracuse struck back with seven more points. John Gillon got a high-arching floater to drop, then set up White on the left wing for another deuce. Gillon then got the second of a pair of foul shots to fall, followed by Lydon putting home two of his own for a 32-24 lead. Each team would add a couple points to their side of the ledger before halftime and SU took a 34-26 lead to the break.
The Orange pushed their lead to double figures twice in the first three minutes out of the locker room, but the Hurricanes used the long ball to come back. Miami used a trio of triples for the bulk of the scoring in a 12-3 run that clipped the margin to 43-42.
Lydon drove the lane and finished strong for the first two and Tyler Roberson followed by making one foul shot. White III hit from the top of the key for three, then delivered again from deep, this time when Roberson found him wide open on the left wing for a 52-42 lead.
Miami got a trey to stop the bleeding, but Lydon scored on the next four Syracuse possessions to double the lead. He opened his personal run with a three-pointer trailing in transition, then had a loose ball come to him for a room service slam dunk. After a bucket by the ‘Canes, Lydon added a jumper and drew contact on a fadeaway, getting two foul shots that he made good on for a 61-47 lead with just over six minutes to go.
Miami showed some life by scoring the next four points, but White III got a three to drop after caroming high into the air off the rim. On the next SU possession, a loose ball found Roberson down low for a lay-up. The senior forward’s found money gave the Orange a 66-51 lead with under four minutes to go and they coasted to the finish line.
Andrew White III led SU with 22 points for the second straight game, this time adding a season-high ten rebounds for his first double-double in orange and the fourth of his collegiate career. The graduate transfer also connected on four threes for the second straight game. Tyler Lydon rang up 20 points, including 15 points after the break. Tyus Battle and Tyler Roberson each chipped in with nine points while John Gillon handed out 11 assists to go with his eight points.
D.J. Vasiljevic was the lone Hurricane to reach double figures, burying six three-pointers for his 18 points. Bruce Brown had nine points while Ja’Quan Newton had eight, just over half his average on the season.
The Orange return to the Carrier Dome hardwood on Saturday when Pitt comes for a visit. After dropping their conference opener to #23 Notre Dame at home in overtime, the Panthers (12-3, 1-1) bounced back by upsetting #11 Virginia on Wednesday, also at home and in overtime, by an 88-76 score.
Syracuse has dropped five straight games against Pitt. Their last win in the series came in 2014 on Tyler Ennis’ 35-foot buzzer-beater in Pittsburgh. That bomb gave SU a 58-56 win and a 24-0 record, setting a school record for most consecutive victories and extending that team’s record for consecutive wins to start a season.
Senior forwards Michael Young and Jamel Artis have been the driving forces for Pitt this season, each shooting over 50 percent from the field and averaging over 20 points per game. Artis leads the team with 22.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while Young is posting 21.4 points and 5.9 boards per outing.
The rivalry resumes at high noon Eastern and the game will be televised regionally through the ACC Network, as well as streamed online at ESPN3.com.