TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - No. 7/7 Syracuse used an 18-6 scoring run in the second half to break open a one-point game as it defeated Florida State, 74-58, in Tallahasse, Fla., The Orange ends the regular season with a 27-4 record.
Syracuse finished 14-4 in ACC play in its inaugural season in the league. The Orange will be the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and will play Friday, March 14 at 7 p.m.
Senior C.J. Fair led a balanced offensive attack for SU with a game-high 22 points. Sophomore Jerami Grant returned to the lineup and added 16 points, as did freshman Tyler Ennis. Junior Rakeem Christmas finished with 12 points. Grant led the Orange on the boards with eight rebounds, while Fair and senior Baye Moussa Keita had seven apiece.
The first 12:30 of the game featured back-and-forth action as the teams were tied 18-18 with 7:36 on the clock. Christmas' two free throws gave Syracuse the lead for good and sparked the Orange on a 13-2 scoring run, which gave SU its largest lead of the first half of 11 with 2:48 remaining. Ennis had seven of his 12 first-half points during the run and capped the offensive outburst with a three-point play that put Syracuse up 31-20. The Seminoles (18-12, 9-9) tallied seven of the final nine points of the half to cut the deficit to 33-27 at intermission.
With the Orange leading 45-37, Florida State went on a 7-0 scoring run to cut the lead to one at the 12:38 mark. Aaron Thomas had four points during the run, all from the free throw line. Redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney hit back-to-back three-pointers to halt the run as Syracuse outscored the Seminoles, 18-6, during a span of seven-plus minutes to take a 13-point lead. Grant had seven points during the stretch and capped the run with a three-point play that gave Syracuse a 65-52 advantage with 4:17 to play. Fair's three-pointer with 55 seconds on the clock gave the Orange its largest lead and the 74-58 victory.
Syracuse shot 48.3 percent from the field (29-for-60), while limiting Florida State to 38.0 percent (19-for-50). The Orange dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Seminoles, 43-24.
Syracuse will make its first appearance in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. The top four seeds in the regular-season standings earn a double-bye into the quarterfinals. The Orange will play the first game of the evening session on Friday, March 14 at 7 p.m.