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Miami Basketball Survives Seesaw battle with Syracuse, 66-62

It was a blood and guts battle in the Carrier Dome as UM improves to 14-5, 4-2 on the season.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Angel Rodriguez was cold from the floor (just 2-11 from the floor),  but did dish out 8 assists make some big plays down the stretch, and Tonye Jekiri (13 points & 15 rebounds) did just enough in his match-up with Cuse star pivot Rakeem Christmas as the 'Canes gutted out a 66-62 win in Upstate NY.

Early on Miami probed the Syracuse zone and as expected the result was a lot of deep shooting.

But Omar Sherman started out hot making a pair of early bombs, and Jekiri rebounded a couple of misses to give the 'Canes extra possessions, as UM looked strong  jumping out to a 10-1 lead.

TJ was also a  presence on the glass all day long.

However, despite some good defense from Davon Reed, Trevor Cooney was able to get loose for a step back jumper, to give the Orange some life and cut the lead to 6.

Syracuse seemed to have the answers all day long anytime the 'Canes opened some distance.

Michael Gbinije knocked down a triple of his own to cut the lead in half, but a pair of Manu Lecomte buckets were a nice response for the Hurricanes.

UM was able to extend their lead despite giving lots of first half rest to their two leading scorers, Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan.

When JaQuan Newton hit his first triple of the season Miami stretched the lead to double digits, at 24-14.  The Hurricanes looked to be in control.

But an 10-0 Orange run ensued highlighted by a a plethora of contested shots that managed to go in, including a rainbow from Cooney, and UM went ice cold leading to a 26 all tie at the half.

Sherman led UM with 8 points.  McClellan and Rodriguez remarkably did not score in the first 20 minutes.

Tyler Roberson paced the Cuse with 8 and 8.

In the second half it looked like enough was enough UM came out gunning with Reed and Rodriguez hitting a few bombs to open things up.

Miami was a lot more active defensively, and Jekiri added a stick back as the 'Canes rebuilt a 9 point lead 4 minutes in.

UM seemed  determined to seize control with stifling defense and some hot shooting.

Ivan Cruz Uceda would eventually hit his first three of the season to stretch the lead to a dozen.

But just like they did in the first half, Syracuse came storming back.

Christmas was a monster inside, finishing the day with 23 points and 9 rebounds.

The Hurricanes just couldn't put the Orange away.

A Cooney triple would eventually cut it to 49-46 with 8 minutes to go.

Miami also had a big issue with fouls.  Thanks to some home cooking, the Cuse were in the double bonus with 7 minutes to go, and Miami wasn't even in the one and one on their end.

Nonetheless UM held a precarious 4 point lead thanks to a pair of spectacular  lobs from Rodriguez to McClellan.

Down the stretch both teams missed critical free throws that could have sealed it for UM or brought the Cuse even closer.

But Christmas was impossible to stop, and it was just 60-59 Hurricanes with a minute to go.

That's when Lecomte nailed a huge three,  only to be matched a moment later by Cooney.

Still up 1, Rodriguez drilled a pair up clutch shots at the charity stripe to boost the lead back to 3.

Cooney launched an air ball in the final 10 seconds, and with the Orange still in possession Miami sent them to the line, where Christmas missed to seal the deal.

And with that the Hurricanes had another hard fought win, and took one step closer to March Madness.