Syracuse had a run early in each half of their ACC Tournament second round matchup with North Carolina State. The first half burst gave the #8-seed Orange (16-8) an early double-digit lead and the one right out of halftime gave them an 18-point cushion, enabling them to coast past the ninth-seeded Wolfpack (13-10), 89-68.
SU ran off nine straight points to trigger a 12-1 run for a 22-12 lead eight minutes into the action. They one-upped that streak, opening the second half with ten straight markers, to start a 16-3 burst for a 59-41 lead less than four-and-a-half minutes into the second session.
The two runs were not really aberrations, as Syracuse had their way on offense all day. The Orange shot over 58 percent in the first half and cleared the 55 percent mark from the floor for the contest, making 14-of-29 three-pointers (48.3 percent) in the game. SU actually missed eight straight shots from the field in the final four minutes, six coming from behind the arc, to bring their shooting marks back down to earth.
The offensive explosion did not lead to neglect on the other end of the floor, as Syracuse held N.C. State to just over 36 percent shooting from the field, including under 30 percent overall and 1-of-7 from three-point range in the second half.
Joe Girard III started the opening barrage with a pull-up jumper from the right side and a determined drive for a three-point-play. Buddy Boeheim backed into the paint for a short turnaround jumper and Jesse Edwards was credited with a jump shot after a basket interference whistle against the ‘Pack. Boeheim got a deep three to bounce through after an N.C. State foul shot to give the Orange a 22-12 lead.
The Wolfpack whittled away, drawing with five at one point. SU posted seven quick points shortly after that to regain control. Marek Dolezaj beat the press and found Boeheim for a three to start the run. Edwards got past the defense for a lay-up and Boeheim dropped in a pull-up jumper from the foul line, building a 37-25 Syracuse lead with under five minutes left in the opening half.
North Carolina State chipped away at the margin, eventually posting the last five points before the break. The Orange held a 43-38 lead at halftime.
Girard opened the second half scorebook with a foul shot for SU, then the threes began raining down. Quincy Guerrier, Alan Griffin, and Girard each made a triple, making it a 10-0 run in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the second session. The ‘Pack got a three of their own to stop the bleeding, but Boeheim one-upped them with a four-point play. Guerrier rattled home a short jumper to complete the 16-3 burst and the Syracuse lead was 59-41.
North Carolina State scored the next two baskets to draw within 14, but they would not get closer over the game’s final 13-plus minutes. The Orange would stretch the lead back out to 18 points shortly after that, then eventually tack another 7-0 run to ice the game.
Griffin drove the middle of the paint for one lay-up, then broke free for a backdoor reverse lay-up on a slick pass from Dolezaj. Boeheim swished a three from the left break for an 80-57 stranglehold on the game with just over seven minutes remaining.
Buddy Boeheim paced SU with 27 points, making 10-of-16 shots and six three-pointers. Most of Boeheim’s work was completed early, as he went 8-for-11 for 20 points in the opening half. Joe Girard III added 14 points while Alan Griffin and Quincy Guerrier each chipped in a dozen. Robert Braswell also reached double figures with 11 points, all of them coming after halftime.
D.J. Funderburk led the Wolfpack with 13 of his 14 points coming in the second half. He shot 10-of-12 from the foul line for the bulk of his output. Manny Bates finished with a dozen points and Dereon Seabron chipped in with 11. Braxton Beverly and Cam Hayes added nine points apiece for N.C. State.
The Orange will meet up with Virginia on Thursday in the first ACC Tournament quarterfinal. The Cavaliers (17-6), who claimed the ACC regular season title, had their way with SU in the regular season matchup at home, getting 14 triples and eight dunks in an 81-58 blowout on January 25.
San Hauser and Jay Huff each had 21 points in the game for Virginia, Hauser draining seven threes and Huff adding a dozen rebounds to the ledger. Trey Murphy III had 16 points, nailing four triples in the game. Those three are the leading scorers on the season for the Cavs, combining for 40 points per game and 132 three-pointers on the season, each shooting over 40 percent from long range.
Quincy Guerrier topped Syracuse with 15 points in that early loss to Virginia while Alan Griffin chipped in with 13.
The Orange and Cavaliers will have a noon Eastern tip-off on Thursday and the game will be televised by ESPN.