The struggles continue.
The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team struggled mightily on offense and couldn’t complete a comeback against upset-minded North Carolina State in their first ever ACC tournament game, as the Wolfpack won 66-63. Tyler Ennis led the way for the Orange with 21 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. Jerami Grant had 19 points and 10 rebounds. ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren led the way for the Wolfpack with 28 points and eight rebounds.
The game started off fairly close with the Wolfpack taking a 28-25 lead into halftime. C.J. Fair shot just 2-12 from the field in the first half and the Orange as a whole shot just just 7-27. A little bit into the game, Trevor Cooney injured his ankle and had to leave the game, it was announced as a sprain but he returned to the game and knocked down his only three-pointer of the night right after.
In the second half, behind Warren, the Wolfpack opened up a 50-40 lead with 11 minutes left. From that point on, the Orange made a push that showed glimpses of the first time these two teams met. The defense started forcing Wolfpack turnovers and after an extended 19-7 run, the Orange were up 59-57 with just a couple of minutes left to play. After a pair of free throws by Anthony Barber to tie the game, Ralston Turner banked home a three to give the Wolfpack a lead they wouldn’t relinquish again. After each team scored two more points, the score was 66-63 Wolfpack with the Orange in possession. A missed Ennis floater was the start of a wild final possession for the Orange as they then continued to get offensive rebounds, but missed five straight three-point attempts to tie the game, summing up what was an awful display of offense throughout the majority of the game.
Fair finished with just nine points on 3-15 shooting, one of his worst nights on the year. Cooney also struggled, going just 1-6 and Rakeem Christmas was in foul trouble for most of the game, scoring just three points and grabbing four rebounds. As a team the Orange shot 18-55 and 4-17 from three. The Orange did out rebound the Wolfpack 36-33 and only turned the ball over seven times. It seemed like everybody was getting good looks from the field that they usually make but today the shots weren’t falling for the 11th ranked Orange. The Wolfpack shot 23-50 for the game, 46 percent, and Jordan Vandenberg provided a key 10 points on 5-5 shooting. He averages just 4.3 points per game on the season.
The Wolfpack will play again tomorrow against the winner of the Duke and Clemson game. As for the Orange, their late season struggles have resulted in them most likely playing their way out of a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Their fate will be determined on Sunday night as the NCAA tournament selection will take place after all of the conference tournaments are finished.