Syracuse’s recent win streak has shown the team withstanding opponents’ rallies, making comebacks of their own, and hitting buzzer-beating shots. Tuesday night, the Orange combined all of those, punctuating their fifth straight win with a Tyus Battle three-pointer just after the final horn for an 82-81 win at Clemson. The dagger from the corner finished a game in which SU (16-9, 8-4 ACC) gave up a 13-2 run after the break and trailed the Tigers (13-10, 3-8) by nine points with under seven minutes to play.
The win pushes Syracuse to fourth place in the ACC with wins over two of the teams in front of them during the streak (Florida State, Virginia).
While there was a happy ending for the Orange, it was far from one of their best defensive performances. Clemson shot just under 54 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three-point range. SU also turned the ball over 13 times while forcing only eight Tiger miscues, but they owned a 33-24 rebounding advantage, including grabbing a dozen boards on the offensive end.
The Orange got off to a slow start, falling behind 22-10 in slightly more than nine minutes of action. Undeterred, Syracuse clawed back into the game, answering with a 9-2 stretch to get within five points.
Tyler Lydon started the stretch by being involved with a couple dunks. First, he had a putback slam, then found Roberson in a five-on-four situation for a two-handed jam. Andrew White III followed a Clemson score by drilling a three from the left corner. Lydon then closed the run with a clever cut on an inbounds play for a lay-up that drew the Orange within 24-19.
Less than four minutes later, SU ran off nine straight points to take a 38-34 lead. Lydon started it off with a post-up from the left side for a three-point play, then White III popped to the left corner for a three-pointer that pushed Syracuse in front. White added a transition three from the right wing to extended the margin to four.
The Tigers responded with the final half dozen points of the half for a 40-38 lead at the break, then added the first score of the second session to make it an 8-0 run. St that time, Taurean Thompson came alive for the Orange, scoring a dozen points in under four-and-a-half minutes on a variety of inside moves to stake the Orange to a 53-51 lead.
Clemson posted another run, this one a 13-2 advantage, to jump out to a 64-55 lead at the midpoint of the half. With under seven minutes to play and the Tigers hanging onto a nine-point lead, SU made their move.
Gillon started a run of seven straight points to make it a one-possession game by swishing a three off a shot fake. He then gathered a long defensive rebound and drew a foul, converting both ends at the line, and made the next possession a success by working the pick-and-roll with Thompson, eventually feeding the freshman big man for a two-handed slam that brought Syracuse to within 70-68.
A few minutes later, the Orange added a 7-1 run to the ledger. White III started the streak with a pair of charity shots, then Lydon made a clever cut to the rim from the corner on an inbounds pass for a dunk to bring SU to a one-point deficit. A couple minutes after a Clemson foul shot, Gillon stole the ball in the backcourt and the ball eventually made its way to White III, who swished a three for a 77-76 lead with under two minutes to play.
The Tigers threw in a matching three to regain their two-point lead. After each team turned the ball over, Lydon was fouled while missing a short shot. He stepped to the line and swished both charity shots to knot the score at 79 a side with 36 seconds left.
Clemson drained most of the clock on the ensuing possession before finishing the trip with a turnaround jumper from the foul line to go up by a pair. Syracuse called a timeout before inbounding the ball and the officials determined there were seven seconds to play.
Lydon inbounded the ball to Gillon, who pushed it upcourt, then dropped a pass back to him in the frontcourt. Lydon drove into the lane, then kicked the ball out to an open Tyus Battle in the right corner. Battle rose before a Tiger defender could contest the shot and released the ball. The horn sounded just before the ball ripped the twine, sending the Syracuse bench onto the floor to mob the freshman guard.
Andrew White III was the night’s top scorer, connecting on five triples as he hung 23 points for the second straight game. Tyler Lydon fell a single rebound shy of a double-double, finishing with 17 points and nine boards. Taurean Thompson scored 14 points, all in the second half, while John Gillon chipped in with 13.
Six different players had at least nine points for Clemson, led by Jaron Blossomgame’s 20. Avry Holmes had 13 points while Gabe DeVoe, Donte Grantham, and Shelton Mitchell each added ten.
Saturday afternoon, the Orange will travel to Pittsburgh to finish their home-and-home series with the Panthers (12-11, 1-9). SU won the first matchup handily, coasting to a 77-66 win after unleashing a 30-2 first half run. That loss pushed Pitt into a tailspin, starting an eight-game losing skid, but they will look to end that slide at Boston College Wednesday night.
Panthers Jamel Artis and Michael Young are the top two scorers in the ACC, each averaging over 20 points per game. The two combined for 40 points in the opening contest against Syracuse, rolling up 34 points in the second half.
Tip-off is slated for 1:00pm Eastern and the game will be televised regionally by the ACC Network, as well as available online at ESPN3.com.