Top-ranked Orange Pulls Away From Pack
Dec. 17, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. - Both halves in Saturday night's matchup between NC State and top-ranked Syracuse followed the same script: The Wolfpack began with a blitz and the Orange finished with a high-scoring flurry.
In the end, Syracuse remained unbeaten with a hard-fought road win, taking an 88-72 victory at the sold-out RBC Center.
The Orange (11-0) did it differently than in its first 10 games, thanks to the outside shooting of Dion Waiters, James Southerland and Kris Joseph, who each hit three 3-pointers.
But the Wolfpack (6-4) showed at times it is capable of playing with the nation's top team, thanks to the leadership of senior swingman C.J. Williams and his running teammates.
"Most of the game, we were doing some really good things," NC State coach Mark Gottfried said. "We also had times when we didn't doing things well. We have to learn to sustain our good moments throughout the game.
"We didn't do that tonight, but I think we earned their respect with how we played."
Williams, for the second consecutive game, established a new career high by scoring 25 points for the Wolfpack. The senior from Fayetteville, N.C., has been particularly effective in his last three games, scoring 18, 21 and 25 points, respectively.
State sophomore C.J. Leslie had 13 points and six rebounds, but was hobbled in the second half with leg cramps and was unavailable down the stretch. Sophomore Lorenzo Brown had a career-high 13 assists for the Pack, to go with 10 points and six rebounds. Junior Richard Howell also added 10 points.
Syracuse broke open a tight game in the final eight minutes behind four double-digit scorers, led by Dion Waiters' team-high 22 and Kris Joseph's 17.
The Orange's scoring burst began shortly after Leslie left the court with leg cramps. Starting at the 8:15 mark, Waiters and Scoop Jardine put together an 11-point run, with Waiters hitting two 3-pointers and Jardine adding a 3 and scoring on a steal and dunk.
Joseph followed by scoring eight of the Orange's next 10 points to seal the victory for veteran coach Jim Boeheim's team.
Both teams were potent from the field, with both shooting better than 56 percent on the night. Both were also hot from 3-point range, with the Orange hitting 11 of 25 from beyond the arc and the Pack hitting seven of 25.
State showed plenty of fight, especially in the opening of both halves. It came out smoking to start the game, opening an eight-point lead on the outside shooting of Williams and Brown. Williams hit three 3-pointers in the first six minutes and the Pack owned a 12-4 lead as the rowdy crowd ramped up the noise in the RBC Center.
The Orange, which came into the contest shooting only 30 percent from beyond the arc, had its own perimeter outburst over the next 10 minutes, using the outside shot to score the majority of points in a 22-0 scoring run that turned a 29-23 Wolfpack lead into a 46-29 Syracuse advantage.
Williams finally ended the Wolfpack's scoring drought with a dunk with 1:24 remaining on the clock and Jordan Vandenberg added another, allowing the Wolfpack to close the gap to 47-33 at intermission.
The Wolfpack blitzed the Orange on a 13-1 scoring run to open the second half.
Junior Scott Wood opened the run with his first 3-pointer of the game and C.J. Leslie contributed six points in the run, as the Wolfpack needed less than five minutes to erase Syracuse's lead. A pull-up jumper by Williams with 15:21 remaining knotted the score at 50-50.
But not long after the Pack pulled even, Leslie left the court with an undetermined injury, taking away a good part of State's scoring and rebounding punch. The Orange jumped ahead with Leslie out of action, but Wood's 3-pointer with 8:31 kept the Pack within two points.
That's when Waiters and Jardine took over with their scoring burst to take control of the game.
The Wolfpack returns to action next week, traveling to St. Bonaventure on Tuesday in Rochester, N.Y., and hosting Northeastern on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the RBC Center.