|Posted on March 6, 2018 at 9:15 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons found themselves on the court together for the third time this season, this occasion being the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) men's basketball tournament.
Wake Forest bested Syracuse at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the Orange returned the favor in the Carrier Dome.
This would not only be the tie-breaker, but would also determine if Syracuse would be
Junior center Paschal Chukwu would win the tip and sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle would chase it door, giving Syracuse the opening possession, which would end in the hands of Battle, who made a tough jumper to score the first time down the floor for the Orange.
Chukwu would follow by going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. Keep in mind, this is a 7'2" center who continues to cash in on freebies at the line.
True freshman forward Marek Dolezaj, who had faked and passed up a jumper on an earlier possession, elevated from by the free-throw line and connected on his first attempt of the game, moving Syracuse out to a 6-0 start.
Junior point guard Frank Howard's three made Syracuse 3-for-3 to begin the game, and the team would also start 4-for-4 from the line, giving them an 11-4 lead on Wake Forest.
Then, true freshman forward Oshae Brissett would attack the basket, going down the baseline for an up-and-under that was aided by a nice spin on the ball, giving all five Syracuse starters points within the first six minutes of the game.
Battle would follow by scoring five points in less than 20 seconds, when he stole the ball away and slammed it home and then took a steal by Brissett and turned it into an old-fashioned three-point play.
With more than nine minutes remaining in the first half, Battle had already attained double-digits in scoring, getting to 12 off of a shot from beyond the arc at the 9:23 mark.
But the Orange, once up by as many as 16 (20-4), began to roll in the wrong direction, forcing threes on offense and looking uncomfortable along with failing to shut down defensively, all leading to the Demon Deacons getting within four, 26-22, on an 18-6 run.
Dolezaj would come up big for Syracuse on both sides of the floor, taking the ball with four seconds remaining on the shot clock and getting to the rim, elevating for the make while getting banged around amidst three defenders and then blocking an attempt by Wake Forest at the other end, providing Syracuse with a 30-24 lead.
The Orange would gain possession at the end of the first half and hold onto it, holding onto the lead by six, staying at 30-24, heading into the break.
Syracuse would get a string of offense from Dolezaj getting fed by Chukwu and dunking it home in an old-fashioned three-point play to Dolezaj making two free throws shortly after to Howard scoring on a jumper while being contacted and then Battle hitting a three in a span of one minute and 30 seconds to give Syracuse a 41-29 advantage.
Dolezaj's jumper with 15:36 remaining in the game would raise him to double-figures on the night.
He would score nine points in three minutes and 17 seconds.
Dolezaj attained double-figures in scoring four times in 31 games this season prior to this match-up, and came in averaging 4.7 points per game.
Coming out of a break in the action, Brissett lost the handle by the rim and his teammate Chukwu cleaned up after him for the high-percentage make, and then Brissett got his in transition when Howard fed him with the no-look and Brissett dunked it home for a 15-point advantage, 52-37, with 10:25 to go.
The Orange would get out to as much as a 19-point lead, at 56-37.
With two free throws at the 6:04 mark of the second half, Dolezaj passed Battle as the team's leading scorer. Dolezaj would end the game with 20 points, a single-game career-high performance.
Crawford went to work out of a TV timeout, nailing a three to bring the deficit to seven for the Demon Deacons, 60-53.
Wake Forest would get it to a two-possession game after getting blocked three times on one possession but staying with it, with sophomore guard Brandon Childress completing an old-fashioned three-point play.
Childress would bring the game to a six-point deficit again right after, making both of his free throws after he collided with Battle.
But both times that Childress moved the Demon Deacons within six, Chukwu responded with a dunk, getting Syracuse back to an eight-point lead on both occasions.
The game would end with both the Orange and Demon Deacons clearing their benches after Wake Forest was held repeatedly at bay by Syracuse, who never played from behind in all 40 minutes of the contest.
Syracuse gains their first-ever victory in the ACC Tournament in a five-year span (played in four of those five years due to self-sanction) with a 73-64 win over Wake Forest.
Dolezaj would lead all Orange players with 20 points, while junior guard Bryant Crawford led the Demon Deacons with 22. Syracuse concluded the game with all five starters in double-figures, Battle with 18, Chukwu with 14, Howard with 11, and Brissett with 10 to follow Dolezaj.