A quick take on Syracuse eking out another thrilling last minute win, 56-55 against North Carolina State on Saturday evening in front of a somewhat “quiet” 31,572 at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: In a game that was moved back four hours for a 7:00 tip due to the fact that the N.C. State charter flight didn’t materialize Friday night, forcing the ‘Pack to make a rare trek to a road game the same day arriving in central New York only about four and a half hours before the rescheduled starting time, Syracuse (25-0, 12-0) pulled out another close one in the final seconds. The Orange trailed 55-54 with :13 left when Rakeem Christmas grabbed an errant State pass and fed Tyler Ennis who found a streaking C.J. Fair for a layup basket that was called goaltending with :06 to play. N.C. State’s final hurried sequence with no timeouts resulted in a missed shot and the Orange held on to stay unbeaten.
ANALYSIS: It was another night of offensive struggles for a ‘Cuse team used to scoring in the 70s, but slogging through a 35% shooting night, and a dismal 2 of 12 (17%) from beyond the arc. FT shooting was a key as the Orange got to the line midway through the second half and capitalized just enough making 16-22. N.C. State (16-9, 6-6) big men T.J. Warren and Kyle Washington dominated inside against a smaller-than-usual SU front line when Christmas was out, combining for 37 points and 14 boards.
HERO: When Christmas wasn’t resting and preserving his five fouls (he finished with three personals), he was terrific on the offense end with a career-high 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds, seven blocks, and grabbing the wayward ball for a steal on defense that led to the game winning basket.
ZERO: A sloppy nine turnovers stopped SU in its tracks on several occasions, in addition to the shooting woes. Specifically, the 10 misses from three point range, and then a couple of key misses down the stretch by Fair and Jerami Grant in the final two minutes, along with Ennis’ offensive foul with :14 to play giving the Wolfpack the ball back up a point, before the heroics on the final takeaway and basket sequence to avoid a shocking defeat.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will break out 1980s Nike throwback uniforms as it meets Boston College (6-18, 2-9) to complete the home and home series with the Eagles in the Dome on Wed., Feb. 19. BC first hosts Notre Dame on Sun. night. The Orange won in Chestnut Hill by 10 on Jan. 13. Game time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPN2.