The Syracuse Orange ended a two-game losing streak Sunday afternoon by beating the Florida State Seminoles 74-58 to end the regular season.
The Orange will enter the postseason with a record of 27-4 and finished the ACC regular season with a 14-4 record, good enough to earn them the second seed in the upcoming ACC tournament. C.J. Fair led the way for the Orange, scoring 22 points on 9-13 shooting and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Jerami Grant had 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing the last game with back issues. Okaro White led the Seminoles with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The Orange found themselves down 18-17 after a back-and-forth start to the game, but a pair of free throws from Rakeem Christmas started a 14-2 run to give the Orange an 11 point lead. They took a 33-27 lead into halftime and never gave it up for the rest of the game. Two points from White with 12:38 left in the second half brought the Seminoles to within one, but a pair of Trevor Cooney three’s gave the Orange a 53-46 lead. After that White basket, the Orange outscored the Seminoles 27-12 to cruise to their 27th win on the season.
The Orange broke out of their struggles on both sides of the ball. They shot 48.7 percent from the field as a team after shooting 40 percent or less in their last five games. All 74 of the team’s points came from their starting five (Grant, Ennis, Christmas, Cooney, Fair) and they made 11 of 15 free throw attempts. They also out rebounded the Seminoles 43-24, including 17 offensive rebounds, and had nine steals. The Orange held their opponent to just 38 percent shooting, including a 4-14 mark from beyond the arc. Opponents had shot 48 percent against the Orange in the past two games and had made 12 of 26 three-point attempts. It is safe to say the defense got back to its old ways.
Rakeem Christmas had a very efficient game for the Orange, scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots. Despite his two big second half threes, Trevor Cooney’s offensive struggles continued as he went 3-13 on the game, including a 2-8 mark from beyond the arc. Over the past seven games, Cooney is shooting just 26 percent from the field and 21.5 percent from three after making 40.8 percent of his threes in the first 24 games. The Orange will need him to break out of his slump if they want to contend for an ACC and National title.
Since they earned the second seed, the Orange will have a double bye and will not have to play again until next Friday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, facing either Miami, Virginia Tech or North Carolina State, all teams they have beaten this season. The tournament is at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro, North Carolina.