SU Men's Basketball: Syracuse vs Wake Forest

Strong second half pushes Syracuse men's basketball past Wake Forest

SU overcomes halftime deficit to top Demon Deacons, 81-76, at the Carrier Dome

After dropping two straight games away from the Carrier Dome, Syracuse men’s basketball returned home and topped Wake Forest, 81-76, on Tuesday night.

Andrew White III led the Orange with 27 points and Taurean Thompson added 18 points to give Syracuse a winning boost following an 18-point loss at Notre Dame.

White’s 27 was a season high and his efforts were needed in a game that went down to the final seconds. Despite the intensity of a close game, White did not seemed fazed by the moment.

Photo: Jacob Greenfeld
Forward Taurean Thompson finishes a dunk during SU's 81-76 victory over Wake Forest at the Carrier Dome.

“This game was fun because it was crunch time,” White said. “You could feel it in the air, the team is going to make plays, and you expect yourself to make plays, so I think we grew a lot tonight because we were able to get over that hump. Maybe not tonight but later on in the season that’s going to be what defines our season. Five minutes left, down four, up four.”

Syracuse (12-9, 4-4 ACC) got off to a quick start, scoring the games first four points and taking an early 7-2 lead. But, Wake Forest (12-8, 3-5 ACC) quickly got back into the game with key offensive rebounds, a theme throughout the night. Wake Forest dominated on the boards throughout the first half and finished with 25 rebounds in the period, while Syracuse grabbed just 15. Wake Forest’s nine offensive rebounds turned into easy second chance points and the Demon Deacons led 32-29 at the half.

The deficit would have been more if not for the scoring of Syracuse’s of Tyus Battle, Tyler Lydon and White. White started hot and had nine of the teams first 13 points to open the game. He would finish the first half with 16 of Syracuse’s 29 points. The three players finished with 26 of Syracuse’s 29 points in the first half and had all but three of Syracuse’s first half shots.

After a low scoring first half, Syracuse came out with more intensity in the second, keeping pace in scoring and rebounding with Wake Forest. Lydon attributed SU’s improved play to a more collective rebounding effort.

“In the first half we didn’t do a good job period on the defensive glass,” Lydon said. “They got too many second chance points. We all knew that, so it was just a mindset for us to come out and be more aggressive on the boards.”

But, Syracuse still trailed the Demon Deacons by six with 10 minutes left in the game. At that point, the Orange seemed to flip a switch and came storming back with Lydon and guard John Gillon hitting 3-pointers to bring the Orange within two. After trading baskets with Wake Forest to tie the score at 59 with 6:51 left, Syracuse went on an 8-2 run in two and a half minutes to give them its biggest lead of the game at 67-61 with four minutes left.

After Wake Forest retained the lead in the game’s final two minutes, White III and Lydon hit big 3-pointers to turn the scoreboard back in Syracuse’s. After Wake Forest responded with a three of its own to cut Syracuse’s lead to 74-73, the final seconds were devoted to fouls and free throws as the Orange held on for the win.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said he was pleased with the way his team played.

“I thought we made two or three great plays at the end of the game,” Boeheim said. “I just thought we played so much better offensively in the second half then we’ve played in a long time. I thought that was the key.”

Syracuse will return to action against No. 6 Florida State on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for noon at the Carrier Dome. 

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