Despite it being a matchup of a nationally-tanked team and a small school that has been a Division I program for just over a decade, #2 Syracuse found themselves trailing High Point early in the second half before rallying for a 75-54 win Friday night at the Carrier Dome. Six straight points by the Panthers (3-7) pushed them out in front less than four minutes into the second half, but the Orange (11-0) dominated from there to secure the victory.
SU turned up their defense in the second half to trigger their comeback. The Orange held the visitors to 35 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers after intermission. This effort came on the heels of a first half in which High Point made half their shots and coughed up the ball only four times.
Syracuse opened the scoring, getting the first two baskets to trigger a 10-2 run to start the game. The two teams traded scores, but a pair of threes by Trevor Cooney against two High Point field goals stretched the SU lead to double figures at 16-6 with just over seven minutes elapsed.
The Panthers found their footing shortly after and used an 8-1 burst to claw back within 20-17 with over eight minutes left in the opening half. A three-pointer would draw High Point even at 24 a side with under six minutes on the clock, but Cooney promptly connected on his third three of the night to but SU back in front.
High Point would grab a one-point lead with 90 seconds left in the half, but a Tyler Ennis jumper and a pair of free throws by Jerami Grant gave the Orange a 37-34 halftime advantage.
C.J. Fair opened the second half with a jumper to push the Syracuse lead to five, but the Panthers replied with six consecutive points to take a 40-39 lead.
The Orange ripped off the game’s next 11 points to reverse the momentum. Ennis highlighted the streak by scoring four quick points with two lay-ups sandwiching a steal and Cooney capped the burst with another three-point bomb.
High Point got a triple to stop the bleeding and get back within 50-43, but SU unleashed an offensive avalanche. Fair hit three shots as part of Syracuse rolling up 17 straight points for a 67-43 advantage with under six minutes to play. Ennis was the triggerman during the stretch, handing out four assists and getting a dunk.
The Orange would later push the lead to 26 points, but High Point notched eight straight points before a Michael Gbinije three closed the scoring for both SU and the game.
Trevor Cooney, who was held scoreless by St. John’s, bounced back by leading Syracuse with 17 points, including knocking down five triples. C.J. Fair backed up Cooney with 15 points. Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant each chipped in with ten points, the former also handing out nine assists and collecting five steals in the contest.
Devante Wallace was the lone player from High Point to reach double figures, topping the Panthers with ten points.
SU will face the toughest non-conference foe on their schedule next Saturday when longtime rival #8 Villanova comes to Syracuse. Prior to tis season, the Orange shared Big East membership with The Wildcats (10-0) and hold the series advantage of 35-32.
Villanova has already knocked off a team ranked #2 in the country this season, defeating Kansas in late November. The Wildcats, who face Rider on Saturday, December 21 before their trip to the Carrier Dome, have three players averaging double figures in scoring in JayVaughn Pinkston (16.7 pts/game), James Bell (16.1 pts/game), and Darrun Hilliard (14.5 pts/game).
Tip-off is set for 2:00pm Eastern with CBS handling the television duties.