- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Syracuse hadn’t been in a close game in nearly two months so coach Jim Boeheim didn’t know what to expect. The Orange made big plays down the stretch, though, and hit big free throws to gain a badly needed win over Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

“We made some really good plays,” Boeheim said. “We haven’t been in really close games and when you get in one for the first time it’s not that easy. They made really good plays when they had to.”

Andrew White scored a season-high 27 points, including a corner 3 with 1:23 remaining, to lift Syracuse to an 81-76 comeback victory over the Demon Deacons.

Taurean Thompson scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and Tyler Lydon chipped in with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Syracuse (12-9, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

John Collins scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Bryant Crawford had 13 points for Wake Forest (12-8, 3-5). Collins was just one rebound short of a double-double in the first half alone.

The win marked the first time this season that the Orange had rallied from a halftime deficit. Syracuse had been 0-7 when trailing after the first 20 minutes.

Thompson scored seven of Syracuse‘s first nine points of the second half, turning a 32-29 halftime deficit into a 38-37 Orange lead with 16:34 to play. Two free throws by Brandon Childress put Wake Forest back on top 39-38, and the Deacons extended to a 55-47 margin on a slam by Doral Moore. Syracuse trailed 57-52 with nine minutes to go and then went on a 15-4 run to grab a 67-61 lead on Thompson’s lay-in and free throw with 4:25 to go. Tyus Battle’s reverse layup and free throw off a John Gillon steal broke a 61-all tie.

The Deacons countered with seven straight for a 68-67 lead on Mitchell Wilbekin’s 3-pointer with 2:30 to go. Syracuse regained the lead 71-68 on White‘s 3 from the corner. Lydon‘s 3 made it 74-70 and the Orange hit 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal it.

“This game was fun because it’s crunch time,” White said. “You can feel it in the air. You know the other guys are going to make plays, and you expect yourself to make plays. When you have unselfish teammates in crunch time that have confidence in you to make that shot it makes it that much easier.”

The Orange didn’t have an easy time with Collins, who recorded his eighth double-double of the season. He had 13 points and nine rebounds in the first half but had only three boards in the second.

“They saw how active I was, particularly on the offensive glass, so coach Boeheim probably told them to put an emphasis on putting a body on me. But the key was they made a lot of clutch shots, ran their offense efficiently and broke down our defense.”

Syracuse took an early 7-2 lead but Wake Forest went on a 16-6 run to take an 18-13 first-half advantage. Collins keyed the surge with six points on three put-backs.

The Orange rallied to a 21-20 lead on a jumper by White. The teams traded baskets the rest of the half and Wake Forest led 32-29 at halftime on a lay-in by Keyshawn Woods.

The Deacons dominated Syracuse on the boards in the opening 20 minutes, outrebounding the Orange 25-15, including nine on the offensive end. Collins, who averages 8.8 rebounds a game, had nine in the first half, including five offensive boards. Wake Forest outscored Syracuse 16-8 inside.

Both teams shot poorly in the first half. Wake Forest hit 13 of 34, including just 3 of 14 from behind the arc. Syracuse was 10 of 28 from the floor and 5 of 15 from beyond the arc.

White kept Syracuse in the game with 16 first-half points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4 of 8 from 3.


White broke the 1,000-point mark for his career with his 27-point effort.


White has scored in double digits in 20 of Syracuse‘s 21 games.


Wake Forest, which averages 38 percent from the 3, hit just 29 percent on 7-of-24 shooting.


Collins continued his string of impressive performances. He averaged 24 points on 17-of-22 shooting last week ion wins over Miami and North Carolina State.


Lydon may have had the defensive play of the game when he blocked a potential Brandon Childress breakaway layup in the first half. The play brought the Dome crowd to its feet.


Wake Forest came back to earth after two good wins but played the Orange tough in a difficult environment. Things get even tougher against Duke on Saturday

Syracuse needed this game badly and rose to the occasion with a difficult matchup upcoming against Florida State. The Orange needs to pile up quality wins to get back in the NCAA Tournament discussion.


Wake Forest hosts No. 17 Duke Saturday.

Syracuse hosts No. 6 Florida State Saturday.

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