Syracuse overcomes 18-point deficit, escapes upset vs. DePaul

Syracuse jumps out to best start in school history with comeback win over DePaul

For the second consecutive game, Syracuse spotted its opponent an early double digit lead. And for the second time this week, SU ended up with a victory.

But this time just barely.

On Monday, fabled rival and eleventh-ranked Georgetown invaded the Carrier Dome for a heavyweight showdown. SU fell behind 14-0, but outscored the Hoyas by 31 the rest of the way for a 17-point win.

On Saturday, SU headed to Chicago for what was just supposed to be a formality with perennial Big East bottom-dweller, DePaul. But when the Orange fell behind early this time, it needed a lengthier, scrappier comeback to top the heavy underdog.

Wes Johnson poured in 16 and Kris Joseph added 15 off the bench as the Orange narrowly avoided a shocker to the Blue Demons, 59-57. The win improves SU to 21-1 (8-1), tying its best start in school history.

DePaul jumped out to an early 18-6 advantage powered by balanced scoring from all five starters. A barrage of outside shooting extended DePaul’s lead to 18 just midway through the first half.

SU knifed and clawed back into the game as DePaul went cold from the floor. The Blue Demons floundered through a seven minute scoreless stretch, triggering a 16-0 run for SU and allowing the Orange to head into the locker room only down four.

In the second half, Joseph scored 10 of his 15 points and Johnson asserted himself on the glass, as the Orange exploited a young DePaul frontcourt. Johnson dazzled the Allstate Arena with two flashy finishes in transition, revving up the large Syracuse contingent in the crowd.

The Orange withstood a near-five-minute scoring drought halfway through the second frame. Trailing 52-43 with seven minutes remaining, SU connected on three consecutive outside shots from Joseph, Scoop Jardine and Andy Rautins. The 9-0 spurt was part of a larger SU 16-2 run which turned a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead.

DePaul’s Will Walker connected on a three-pointer to trim the SU lead to two with a minute to play. On the other end, Rautins missed on a three-point attempt with 30 seconds to go, giving the Blue Demons one last chance to tie or take the lead.

With the clock winding down, Walker botched an open look from behind the arc. DePaul corralled the rebound, but could not muster another shot before the clock expired.

Due up next for the Orange is a Tuesday tilt with Providence, 12-8 (4-4). In their only meeting a year ago, the Friars stymied the Orange 100-94 in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Providence only returns one starter from last year’s club.

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