MAUI, HAWAII - Syracuse scored eight unanswered points during the final two minutes as the No. 8/7 Orange pulled away from Minnesota, 75-67, in both team's opener of the EA Sports Maui Invitational Monday.
The Orange (5-0) advance to the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday against California at 7 p.m. SU defeated the Golden Bears 66-60 in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
After SU opened up a 14-point lead in the second half, Minnesota (5-1) climbed all the way back to within two at 67-65 with 2:14 remaining in the game. SU scored the next eight points and sophomore Jerami Grant and freshman Tyler Ennis combined to go 6-of-7 from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the victory.
Senior C.J. Fair notched his first double-double of the season with game highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Fair finished with 12 second half points. Redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney contributed 15 points on 5-of-11 from long distance. Grant and Ennis also reached double-figures with 12 points apiece. Ennis added game bests of five steals and five assists.
SU had the hot hand in the second half shooting 50-percent (11-22) and enjoyed a 10-point advantage in the game at the charity stripe by going 22-of-27 from the line. The Orange also took advantage of 19 Minnesota miscues by outscoring the Golden Gophers 26-10 in points off turnovers.
Syracuse scored the game's first seven points on its way to building a 12-2 lead behind a pair of three's from Cooney. Minnesota countered with a 15-2 run, including 12 straight for its first advantage of the game at 17-14 with 10:59 left in the half.
Put-back dunks by sophomore DaJuan Coleman and Grant momentarily had SU back in front at 18-17 midway through the first and began a string of six more lead changes over the next three minutes. A 7-0 run, capped by Cooney's fourth three of the half, gave the Orange a 31-25 edge. The Golden Gophers reclaimed the lead for the final time at 34-33 with 2:12 left. However, Syracuse scored six of the last eight points in the half and held Minnesota without a basket for the remaining 3:56 to head into the break on top, 39-36.
Cooney started off the second half with his fifth three of the game to spark a 13-2 run, with Fair scoring eight during the spurt to push SU's margin to 52-38 – its largest of the game - just over four minutes in. Minnesota responded by outscoring the Orange 14-4 on the heels of two three-pointers from Malik Smith, to pull within 56-52 with 11:39 remaining in the game.
The Orange lead fluctuated between four and eight for more than nine minutes until two free throws by Andre Hollins had the Golden Gophers trailing just 67-65 with 2:14 left in the contest.
Smith matched Fair with game high scoring honors with 16 points and was 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Elliott Eliason had a game-high five blocks to go along with nine boards and six points.