Last time they played: Wolfpack battles back but No. 1 Syracuse staves off upset bid

first_imgIn its very first game of the season as the No. 1 team in the country, Syracuse had a newly placed target on its back. The Orange jumped ahead by as many as 17 points in the first half, and it appeared North Carolina State had lost sight of that target. But early in the second half, the bull’s-eye must’ve looked massive to the Wolfpack.“I thought the single best thing was that when they made that comeback, our players kept their poise.” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. “They were really steady, they just kept getting good shots.”It was a game of runs, and fortunately for Syracuse, it ended with one of its own spurts. Sophomore Dion Waiters dropped 22 points off the bench and senior Kris Joseph went for 21 points as the country’s new top-ranked team held off N.C. State, 88-72, in Raleigh, N.C., on Dec. 17, 2011.The Orange pushed its record to 11-0 and prevailed in its first true road test of the year, but it wasn’t easy.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Wolfpack burst out to a 12-4 lead and held an eight-point advantage until the 12:25 mark. And with the score 29-23, Syracuse went to work. A string of 23 unanswered points — including 10 by Waiters and a pair of 3-pointers by James Southerland — put the Orange ahead by 17 and the team went into halftime up 14.“They gave us a lot of difficulty trying to stop them,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said after the game. “They can score a lot of different ways, because they’re really good at getting to the basket.”In the first 20 minutes, N.C. State failed to match the intensity of the 19,400 fans in the RBC Center with its on-court play. But then the Wolfpack came out of the break reenergized. C.J. Leslie threw down a pair of dunks and hit a jumper to draw within two points. C.J. Williams then hit a short jumper at the 15:27 point to knot the score at 50, and N.C. State had itself a 17-3 run to open the half.“We knew they were going to come back,” Waiters told The Daily Orange after the game. “It’s never over in college basketball, especially in their house.”During the following five minutes, the score was tied twice and SU never led by more than five. N.C. State’s Scott Wood hit a 3 to cut the deficit to two with 8:38 left, but Waiters responded right back with a triple of his own before the Wolfpack’s defense could get set. Williams converted a layup at the other end, but again Syracuse answered with a 3 — this time from Scoop Jardine.On the next possession, Waiters picked off a Williams pass at the top of the key and jammed down the transition dunk. Jardine hit another triple 30 seconds later for an 11-point lead with 6:44 remaining, which punctuated the win.From there, the Orange coasted. When it was all said and done, it was a 25-11 spurt from the 8:38 mark to the final buzzer that allowed Syracuse to defend its new ranking in a hostile environment.“I think we got rattled just a little in the beginning (of the second half),” Waiters said, “because we missed like two or three shots that we would have hit in the first half and then we had two dumb turnovers on my behalf.“So just things like that have to clean up, have to get it back together and get us going again.”–Compiled by Phil D’Abbraccio, asst. copy editor, [email protected], @PhilDAbb Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 14, 2014 at 12:36 amlast_img

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