The second-ranked Syracuse Orangemen withstood a late rally by the University of Miami and held on to defeat the Hurricanes 64-52 before a sellout crowd Saturday afternoon at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables. Syracuse (19-0) remains one of only three undefeated teams in the NCAA.
"We have been in seven close ball games and this was one of them,' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "My goal as a coach is to get better and not be in this situation. We were in seven real close ball games. This could have easily gone the other way."
The win gives the Orangemen a 16-5 lead over the Hurricanes in their series history and completes a season sweep for Syracuse who also defeated the Canes 49-44 at the Carrier Dome on January 4.
The Canes (10-9) were led by Davon Reed who scored 16 points and was three-for-four from three-point range. CJ Fair led the Orangemen with 15 points and seven rebounds.
"Reed was on the scouting report, but I haven't seen him surface," Boeheim said after the win. "But he made some big threes for them. He's a good player."
Syracuse started the game on an 18-2 run and it looked as if it was going to be a long afternoon for the Hurricanes. Miami rallied in the second half and actually took a brief 47-46 lead with 8:17 to play. However, Miami went more than five minutes without a field goal near the end of the game to kill the rally.
Trevor Cooney, who finished with 11 points, made a big three-point field goal to put the Orange up 56-50 with a little more than a minute to play. That was the dagger that got to the heart of the Hurricanes.
"Trevor made a big play when he knocked down that three. It gave us some room," Boeheim said. "He does not make mistakes, but how can you when all you do is catch and shoot,"
The fans were encouraged to wear their pajamas as part of a promotion to enter the game. By the way the game started, they could have gone back to sleep. Syracuse started the game on a 19-4 run in the first half, went three-for-three from behind the arc and took a commanding 26-9 lead.
Fair picked up where he left off after the teams' last meeting and dominated the first half with ten points and five rebounds. His three-point field goal with 14:32 to play in the half put the Orangemen up 13-7 as they were in the midst of a 11-5 run.
The Hurricanes came storming back and finished the half with a nice 18-5 run of their own to cut the lead to 31-26 at the half. During the run Miami hit four consecutive three-point field goals to cut into the Syracuse lead. Brown led the Canes comeback with eight points. Reed followed with seven first half points for the Hurricanes.
The Canes played tremendous defense down the stretch of the first half as the Orangemen turned the ball over on five of six trips down the court late in the half.
"We got off to an outstanding start," Boeheim said. "Then we made five turnovers in those four minutes and they make it a game. They made some threes and got back into the game."
Miami took an early 2-0 lead on the first possession of the game with a follow up slam by Rion Brown. Syracuse went on to score eight of the games next ten points.
The game was played before a partisan crowd of mostly Syracuse fans. The Orangemen were out in full force.
"We always get a good crowd when we play in South Florida," Boeheim said. "Most of our fans down here support us when we are in town, or when we were in Tampa and it's good to see."
This was a game where Miami's starting point guard, Manu Lecomte started, but was limited to 20 minutes.
"They really do not have a point guard," Boeheim said. "But you really do not need one against us, due to the way that we play."
Despite the win, Boeheim was extremely complementary to the Hurricanes.
"When the went to the zone, they are a different team," Boeheim said. "They are a difficult team to play."