Less than six minutes was all Clemson needed to dispose of Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. The Orange (10-6, 4-5 ACC) got a three-pointer to open the scoring, then the Tigers (12-5, 6-5) ripped off ten straight points to trigger a 15-2 run for a quick double-digit lead. The rest of the game was strictly to fill out the score sheet, as SU never truly threatened the rest of the way and Clemson coasted to a 78-61 home victory.
After the Tigers built that quick ten-point margin, SU got within six points a couple minutes later. Clemson responded by rolling up a pair of 8-0 runs before the first half was over. The second burst gave the hosts a 20-point lead with under a minute until intermission.
Syracuse was simply awful in the first half. They shot 3-for-25 from the floor, making just one field goal in the final 15 minutes before halftime. The Tigers dominated the glass, holding a 24-11 rebounding edge. That included grabbing eight offensive rebounds while the Orange collected five defensive boards. Clemson transformed those eight offensive boards into 15 second chance points, led 12-4 in points in the paint, and had ten assists on their 13 field goals.
The Tigers had SU in a 39-19 hole at the break and never allowed them to get closer than 18 points until Joe Girard III made a lay-up with 34 seconds to play. Girard also drew a foul on the shot, but missed the free throw, a fitting end on a day when Syracuse had little to offer.
Clemson expanded their lead early in the second half, scoring seven of eight points to take a 51-26 lead under four-and-a-half minutes after the break. The Orange used an 8-2 run near the middle of the second half to get the deficit under 20, as Marek Dolezaj had a three-point play and connected on a jumper, then Buddy Boeheim followed a Tiger basket with a three-pointer to get within 60-41.
The teams traded one score apiece, but the SU basket was their last point for over three-and-a-half minutes. Their next deuce was the only score in an 8-2 Clemson run that extended the hosts’ control to 25 points once more, this time at 70-45 with just over four minutes remaining.
Joe Girard III was the only Syracuse player to make more than three shots from the field. He finished with 19 points, all in the second half and a dozen coming in the final five minutes. Alan Griffin went 7-for-7 from the foul line, but just 2-of-13 from the field, finishing with 12 points. Marek Dolezaj had ten points and Buddy Boeheim (3-for-13 field goals) and Quincy Guerrier (3-for-11) had eight each. Kadary Richmond had six steals.
Aamir Simms dominated for the Tigers, making 7-of-9 shots as he rolled up 18 points and 11 rebounds. Nick Honor hit 5-of-8 from three-point range for all 15 of his points. Olivier-Maxence Prosper added nine points while Al-Amir Dawes chipped in with eight. Clyde Trapp only scored two points, but handed out 11 assists as seven of his teammates finished with at least a half dozen points.
Syracuse will close their season series with North Carolina State in a Tuesday evening road game. On January 31, the Orange dug out of an 11-point first half hole, then held on late for a 76-73 win at home in the first matchup with the Wolfpack (8-7, 4-6). The ‘Pack had lost six of seven prior to ripping Boston College apart on Saturday, 81-65, in a game they led by as many as 32 points.
Jericole Hellems paced N.C. State in the first matchup with 24 points and leads the team’s active players at 13.3 points per game (top scorer Devon Daniels was lost for the season prior to the first game between the two teams). Manny Bates leads the team in rebounds and blocks and did the same in the first game against SU, ringing up a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double along with four blocks. D.J. Funderburke, who missed the first game between the two schools, will be available to the Wolfpack and averages 11.8 points per game.
The Syracuse-North Carolina State rematch will take place on Tuesday at 6:30pm Eastern with the ACC Network handling television responsibilities.