In a matchup of two teams who came into the day averaging over 163 points per game combined, points were few and far between. South Carolina found more of them than #18 Syracuse, going wire-to-wire for a 64-50 win in Brooklyn, New York. The Orange (4-1), who came into the game averaging over 86 points per game on 52.4 percent shooting from the field, could not accomplish much against the aggressive defense of the Gamecocks (6-0), ending the day with a 31.8 percent success rate from the floor.
SU played sloppily in their stiffest test to date, turning the ball over 17 times, including 11 in the opening half. The Syracuse defense was choppy, giving up a lot inside at times, as evidenced to being outscored in the paint, 30-8. South Carolina also won the battle of the boards, grabbing 37 rebounds to SU’s 30.
The Gamecocks opened the game by hitting threes on their first two possessions, taking a lead they would never give up. The Orange would need nearly three minutes to get on the board, but overcame their slow start to pull within 10-9 less than seven minutes into the action when Tyler Lydon and John Gillon each hit a three-pointer from the right side.
Shortly after, South Carolina ran up eight straight points to get some breathing room at 20-11 with 7:31 left in the first half. Frank Howard rattled home a three from the left wing and Lydon added two foul shots to draw Syracuse within four points.
The Gamecocks again responded with a run, this one a 10-3 burst, to grab the first double-figure lead of the game at 30-19 with under three minutes remaining in the opening half. The two squads played evenly over the rest of the half and South Carolina held a 37-26 lead at the break.
The Gamecocks added a point to their lead early in the second half, but the Orange responded with their best stretch of basketball of the day, a 10-2 run to pull within 42-38.
Lydon did most of the damage, starting with a foul shot, then burying a triple from the right wing and dropping in an inside shot for six straight points. Following a Gamecock lay-up, Frank Howard slashed into the lane for a three-point play and Andrew White III dropped in a free throw to make it a four-point game.
South Carolina quickly pushed the lead out to eight, but SU got a pair of foul shots from both Howard and White to halve the margin at 47-43 with 11:39 showing on the clock.
Those free throws were the last offense for the Orange for over five minutes. Following a pair of scores, the Syracuse defense stiffened, holding the Gamecocks without a score for almost six minutes. White III drilled a three in transition to pull SU within five points, but that was their only score in nearly nine minutes, leaving them in a 57-46 hole with just under three minutes to go.
South Carolina hit five-of-six from the line, pushing their lead to 14, then added a bucket for a 16-point stranglehold with 1:25 left, and cruised to the final horn.
Tyler Lydon turned in a strong effort for the Orange, finishing with a game-high 18 points and leading the team with seven rebounds. Andrew White III and Frank Howard were the only other SU players in double digits, each ending the game with ten points. No one else on the roster finished with more than four points.
Syracuse will have their second straight game away from home on Tuesday when they travel to #16 Wisconsin for their matchup in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. This will mark the second straight meeting for the Orange and the Badgers (4-2) in the battle of the conferences. Wisconsin hosts Providence on Sunday before welcoming SU to Madison.
Tip-off on Tuesday is set for 7:30pm Eastern. The game will be televised by ESPN and be available online at ESPN3.com.