Syracuse survives NC State, now 25-0

By wbng sports

Syracuse survives NC State, now 25-0

February 15, 2014 Updated Feb 15, 2014 at 11:05 PM EST

SYRACUSE (WBNG BINGHAMTON) Senior C.J. Fair laid in the game-winner with 6.7 seconds left as No. 1 Syracuse escaped with 56-55 victory against North Carolina State to stay unbeaten on the season.

The winning play started with a steal by junior Rakeem Christmas with 13 seconds left on the defensive end. Christmas passed the ball to freshman Tyler Ennis who found Fair for the layup.

Syracuse (25-0, 12-0 ACC) extended its school-record for consecutive wins to 25 straight while taking down NC State (16-9, 6-6 ACC) in front of 31,572 in attendance. That total is the third largest crowd to take in an NCAA Division I college basketball game this season. It is also the first time since the 1990-91 season that the Orange has hosted four 30,000-plus crowds in a single campaign.

In a game that featured 17 lead changes and 12 ties, neither team was able to grow a lead by more than five points. The Wolfpack owned that five point advantage at 50-45 with 6:27 left in the game following a 6-0 run. Syracuse answered back with six unanswered of its own, including four free throws by Christmas to jump back on top 51-50 only 1:40 later.

With SU holding onto a 53-52 edge, Ralston Turner was fouled shooting a three and proceeded to make all three from the charity stripe to put NC State on top for the last time at 55-53 with 62 seconds to go. Fair hit one-of-two from the line 21 seconds afterward and the Orange defense forced two turnovers in the final 22 seconds, including Christmas' steal that led to Fair's winner.

Christmas had a career night with personal-bests of 12 rebounds and seven blocks to go along with 14 points for his first collegiate double-double. His points total was one off a career-high. Sophomore Jerami Grant also posted a double-double with 12 points and a career-best 14 boards. Fair was the third Orange man to reach double-figures with 11 points.

The teams exchanged baskets throughout the opening five minutes of the game with the Orange taking an 11-9 edge behind six points from Christmas, including a pair of monster dunks. Three straight points by the Wolfpack marked the first of six lead changes over the next 5:27 with Syracuse going back ahead 20-18 on a long range basket by redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney.

NC State responded with eight of the next 10 points to take a 26-22 advantage with 2:36 remaining in the half. However, SU tallied the last four points of the half on field goals by Fair and Cooney to even the score at 26-26 at the break.

T.J. Warren recorded six of the first eight points in the second, giving him the Wolfpack's last 10 points dating back to the first half, while opening up a 32-28 margin less than three minutes into the final half. Trailing 34-30, the Orange used a 10-4 run to take its first lead of the second with Christmas and Grant each netting four points.

Grant's putback began a string of six lead changes within a span of 2:25. After freshman Tyler Ennis put the Orange up 45-44 on his three-point play, the Wolfpack scored six straight points for its largest lead of the night at 50-45 with 6:27 remaining. Syracuse would close out the game on an 11-5 run while limiting the visitors to just one field goal the rest of the way.

SU owned a nine point advantage from the free-throw line going 16-of-22 (72.7%) compared to 7-of-14 (50%) for NC State. In the second half, the Orange went 14-of-19 while NC State only attempted four free throws. Despite only holding a one-rebound margin in both total and offensive boards, Syracuse enjoyed a 14-7 edge in second chance points.

Warren, the Atlantic Coast Conference's leading scorer, finished with 23 points. Kyle Washington recorded a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Orange complete a home-and-home series with Boston College on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

(Courtesy: Syracuse University)

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.