NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse 73-64 win over Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Tournament:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Syracuse’s 11-0 run spotted them a 56-37 lead with 8:16 left, Wake Forest used an 11-0 run of its own to get as close as 62-56 with 1:57 left. But Tyus Battle and Marek Dolezaj each found Paschal Chukwu for an alley-oop on consecutive possessions for a 66-58 lead, and the Orange zone forced a turnover with 1:04 left as Syracuse hung on for the win. It was one of SU’s best offensive performances of the season, as it shot 54.8 percent from the field and 23-29 from the free throw line.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s first ACC Tournament win in school history sets them up for what amounts to a do-or-die game against North Carolina for a coveted at-large NCAA bid. A win in the season finale against a Clemson team that was No. 8 in the RPI combined with a victory against the Tar Heels, who have been in the top 15 for most of the season, should be the signature wins needed to vault the Orange to the NCAA Tournament. Not bad for a team that looked completely out of contention after an embarrassing 15-point loss to Boston College just a week ago, though beating the Tar Heels will be no small order.
HERO: With 18:18 left in the second half, Dolezaj caught a pass from Chukwu and slammed through a thunderous jam plus a foul, bringing a huge roar from the pro-SU crowd. That proved to be the impetus to a standout performance from the freshman, who would throw down two more dunks as part of a career-high 20 points.
ZERO: Take Crawford’s 22 points on 8-15 shooting out of the equation, and you can see how badly Wake Forest struggled navigating the zone. The rest of the Deacons combined for 15-49 shooting and 42 points.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will play sixth-seeded North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday at 9 p.m. TV: ESPN2.