Tuesday evening, North Carolina State proved to be very giving hosts, as they committed 20 turnovers to help Syracuse grab a 77-68 road win. The victory snapped a four-game road losing streak for the Orange (11-6, 5-5 ACC), who need every win they can secure to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
SU was stingy on defense overall in the second half, holding the hosts to just 37.5 percent shooting after intermission after giving up 52.4 percent field goal shooting early. That included holding the Wolfpack (8-8, 4-7) without a field goal in the final 4:46 of play, enabling them to put together eight straight points to pull away.
On the other end of the floor, Syracuse had their best three-point shooting game in nearly two months, making 9-of-19 shots from beyond the arc. Alan Griffin and Buddy Boeheim combined for seven of those three-pointers.
Neither side had more than a five-point advantage in the first 16 minutes of play. North Carolina State owned that largest lead with a little over eight minutes left in the opening half, but the Orange quickly erased the margin on a three from Alan Griffin and a driving lay-up from Joe Girard III.
The Wolfpack would build a 28-25 lead four minutes later, but SU responded with the first significant run of the game, rattling off nine straight points. Kadary Richmond opened the burst with a pair of foul shots, then made steals on consecutive possessions and transformed them into lay-ups. Griffin then swished a three from the right corner for a 34-28 lead with 1:44 until the break.
The hosts scored the final five points of the opening half, then added the first point of the second to tie the game. Syracuse answered with a half dozen markers to regain a six-point lead, but N.C. State struck back with an 8-2 run shortly after to tie the game once more.
The Orange rose to the challenge once more, ripping off a 10-1 burst for their largest lead of the game at 55-46 just over seven-and-a-half minutes into the second half. Boeheim had the first five points on a triple and a pull-up, then missed a shot, but Quincy Guerrier dunked home the rebound. Griffin swished a trey from right of center to cap the SU spree.
The Wolfpack chipped away at the gap, drawing within four points, but Syracuse took their biggest lead to that point at 65-55 when Robert Braswell and Griffin made back-to-back threes with over eight minutes remaining.
The hosts came back once more, tallying seven straight to make it a one possession game. The two squads traded baskets with just under five minutes to play, but the Wolfpack basket was their last field goal of the night.
The Orange responded by scoring on four straight possessions. Boeheim bounced in a short jump shot, then Griffin followed his own miss. Guerrier powered over a defender to score inside to stretch the lead to nine. Guerrier and Boeheim each grabbed an offensive rebound on the following possession, which forced the ‘Pack to foul. Richmond knocked down both ends of the bonus opportunity, boosting the SU lead to its largest point of the game at 75-64 with 1:49 left.
N.C. State could not buy a basket the rest of the way and Syracuse held on from there.
Alan Griffin topped all scorers in the game with 22 points, making 4-of-7 three-pointers and also grabbing three steals for the Orange. Buddy Boeheim came alive in the second half, scoring 13 of his 16 points after the break. Quincy Guerrier also hit double digits in the second session, as 11 of his 14 points came after the half. Kadary Richmond chipped in with eight points and four steals.
Thomas Allen had 17 points to lead the Wolfpack, connecting on four triples for the majority of his damage. D.J. Funderburk, who missed the first game between the two schools, had 14 points and Jericole Hellems added 11. Manny Bates had eight points to go with his three blocked shots.
SU returns home to try to build a winning streak when they take on Boston College on Saturday afternoon. SU routed the Eagles (3-11, 1-7) on the road two months ago in Boston, hitting nearly 60 percent of their shots in a 101-63 blowout. Seven different Syracuse players had at least nine points in the game, paced by Alan Griffin’s 22 points.
BC has been ravaged by the coronavirus, having five games postponed and playing another with just four scholarship players available. The Eagles host Wake Forest on Wednesday night before facing the Orange. Boston College’s top three scorers, Jay Heath, Wynston Tabbs, and Rich Kelly, have combined to make 82 three-pointers on the season while shooting over 38 percent from long range.
The ACC Network will televise the return game between the two schools, which tips off at 2:00pm Eastern on Saturday.