After eight days off, Syracuse returned to action well-rested, not rusty. The Orange provided ample evidence of being a well-oiled machine, turning in their best shooting effort of the year as they cruised past Florida State, 85-72, to cap a perfect four-game homestand. SU (17-8, 7-5 ACC) knocked down 62 percent of their field goals on the night, torching the Seminoles (16-8, 6-6), who had won four straight games entering the contest.
The 62 percent field goal shooting mark by Syracuse is not just their best performance of the year, it stands as their lone effort on the season where they made at least half their shots. It was a good time for that degree of hot shooting, as it more than offset 20 Orange turnovers.
After the two teams traded the lead a couple times in the opening minutes, SU scored a half dozen straight points to take a lead they would not relinquish. Malachi Richardson started the mini-run with a banked runner in the lane, then Trevor Cooney pulled up from the right elbow for a jumper. Michael Gbinije stole an inbounds pass at halfcourt and turned it into a contested lay-up and an 11-6 Syracuse lead before the game was four minutes old.
A couple minutes later, the Orange nudged their lead out to nine points. Tyler Lydon drilled a three-point shot from the top of the key, then Cooney dropped in a pair from the line to push the lead to nine.
After Florida State pulled within five, the Orange rattled off a 12-3 run to open up a comfortable lead. DaJuan Coleman finished a pick-and-roll to start the run, then Richardson fed Gbinije for a fast break dunk to stretch the lead to nine points. Following a Seminole trey, SU posted eight straight markers.
Frank Howard dropped in a right-handed floater while driving the left side of the key, then Gbinije banked in a triple from the right wing. Richardson absorbed a foul while scoring in transition, then added the foul shot for a 31-17 Syracuse lead with a little over eight minutes left in the half.
FSU made great use of the rest of that time, erasing the bulk of that gap before halftime. In fact, a long three-pointer that just beat the buzzer sent the two teams into the locker room with the ‘Noles trailing, 42-39.
The Orange, however, blew the doors off Florida State in the opening five minutes of the second half, scoring 17 of the first 20 points out of the break.
Coleman jumpstarted the SU offense with a dunk and a putback. The center then drove left from the top of the key for another lay-in, then found Richardson cutting backdoor for a reverse lay-up to make it eight straight points to open the half.
After an FSU foul shot paused the streak, Gbinije buried a pull-up three. He then passed to Lydon in transition, who redirected the ball to Tyler Roberson for a dunk and a 55-40 lead.
The Seminoles got a score to stop the bleeding, but the Orange went right back to work. Gbinije drilled a stepback three and Roberson added a free throw to cap the run and give Syracuse a 59-42 lead with 15:21 left on the clock.
Floirda State got within a dozen points shortly after that, but no closer over the rest of the game. The Orange, who had nudged the lead back out to 15 points, posted eight straight points via a lay-up and six free throws by three different players to take a 79-56 lead with just under seven minutes to go.
SU would push the lead out to 24 points late in the game, but Florida State closed with the night’s last 11 points to make the score respectable.
Michael Gbinije led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including sticking 4-of-5 three-pointers. Malachi Richardson backed him with 17 points and grabbed three steals. Tyler Lydon posted a double-double of 15 points and ten rebounds. Trevor Cooney added ten points while Tyler Roberson and DaJuan Coleman chipped in with nine and eight points, respectively.
Devon Bookert paced four Seminoles in double digits with 15 points. Malik Beasley added 14 points while Dwayne Bacon had 11 and Xavier Rathan-Mayes chipped in with ten.
The Orange will now hit the road for their next two games with the first stop at Boston College on Sunday. The Eagles occupy the basement of the ACC, as they are winless in 11 conference games and 7-17 overall. Eli Carter is the top threat for the Eagles, leading the squad with averages of 16.5 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 three-pointers per game.
Syracuse handled BC at the Carrier Dome on January 13, walking away with a 62-40 win in an ugly game. Carter was the lone Eagle in double digits in the first matchup, posting 13 points. Malachi Richardson led four Syracuse players in double figures with 15 points and Tyler Roberson rang up a ten-point, 12-rebound double-double when the teams first met.
The contest, which will start at 1:00pm Eastern, will be televised regionally by the ACC Network. The telecast will also be available online at espn3.com and through the ESPN app.