A quick take on Syracuse’s strong second half performance in its 76-73 comeback victory over North Carolina State, on a seasonably chilly, 20-degree Sunday night outside of the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse (10-5, 4-4) had just enough offense, and played just enough defense to eek out a crucial ACC victory. After looking good in two straight wins, SU did not look good at Virginia last Monday, and in the first half of this game. It begins and starts with the SU zone defense. N.C. State scored 47 points in the first half, but the zone tightened in the second half giving up only 26 NCSU points. Syracuse fought back from a nine point halftime deficit to go ahead with 10:24 to play, thanks to baskets close to the rim, Buddy Boeheim heating up (17-points and 4-of-8 beyond the arc), and Kadary Richmond’s spark running the point coming off the bench.
ANALYSIS: A game with seven ties and 18 lead changes turned with just under 5:00 to play and SU up two points. With Richmond playing with poise and some nice passing, Boeheim got an open look and hit a trey to put the Orange up five. Even playing minus injured starters Devon Daniels (season-ending leg injury) and D.J. Funderburk (violation of university policy) and their combined 26 points per game, North Carolina State (7-6, 3-5) came out hustling. Wolfpack big men Jericole Hellems and Manny Bates looked unstoppable at times, combining for 41-points and 23-boards, as SU won for the first time this season losing the rebounding battle (37-35). Syracuse had five players in double figures as Richmond provided a huge offensive boost finishing with 14-points in his 16-minutes of action, hitting 6-of-7 shots and a key basket to put SU up three with 0:55 to play. The SU defense held N.C. State without a three-pointer in the second half.
HERO: Playing all but one minute, Alan Griffin, although cooling off a little in the second half, had a team-high 19-points, six rebounds, four important steals, an athletic three blocked shots, plus the two clinching free throws. All in a night’s work.
ZERO: Quincy Guerrier, also playing all but one minute, struggled scoring until the second half (but did have another double-double), and fouled out with 0:06 to play. With SU up 74-70, Guerrier notched his fifth personal on a missed three-point shot by the Wolfpack’s Thomas Allen to make it too close for comfort. Allen closed the lead to one point hitting all three free throws, before Griffin hit the final foul shots to secure the 76-73 win.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse looks to make it two straight wins staying home to face No. 25 Louisville in a quick turnaround this Wednesday night, Feb. 3 at the Dome. Louisville also has a jam-packed schedule. The Cardinals host Georgia Tech in a Monday matinee (Feb. 1), a game that was originally scheduled for Jan. 9. Louisville (10-4, 5-3) hammered the ‘Cuse 99-60 at the KYC Yum! Center last year. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ACC Network.