It wasn’t easy, but the Syracuse Orange got enough scoring to go along with their stifling defense to beat the Clemson Tigers by a final score of 61-53 in its ACC home-opener.
After a couple of turnovers from both sides to start the game, the Orange entered the first media timeout up 12-7 with the help of a few perimeter shots. Tyus Battle got the scoring started with a midrange pull up, but it was the long-range shots from Marek Dolezaj and Elijah Hughes that helped Syracuse jump out to the early lead.
Frank Howard added to the lead with a three pointer of his own, which came off of a dribble drive from Battle, a sight we’ve been waiting to see all season long. The Orange were able to get in the lane early, which helped them find open threes and layups inside. After a slow start, Oshae Brissett got his first bucket to fall with a nifty finish inside to give the Orange a 19-9 lead a little over half-way through the first half.
A transition dunk from Brissett off of one of Clemson’s seven first half turnovers prompted the Tigers to call a timeout down 11 with 8:37 remaining in the first half. Clemson’s strength inside however, helped them cut the Orange lead to 23-17, as Syracuse started to settle for contested threes after their hot start.
The Orange started to look for shots inside off of a coach Jim Boeheim timeout, as they found Battle and Brissett inside for easy buckets. Despite them cooling off from the perimeter, Syracuse was able to enter the half up 30-22, with the help of Brissett and Battle who combined for 13 points on 6-13 shooting from the field.
A pair of free throws for Hughes, followed by a jumper from Howard, got the Orange started in the second half. It wasn’t just Syracuse’s offense that showed up, but they were also able to get their hands in passing lane and force Clemson into turnovers and tough shots.
With the Orange starting to take control, Clemson hit back to back threes to cut the Syracuse lead to 34-28. The Orange regained control with the help of two threes from Dolezaj and Hughes, helping them take the 41-28 lead with 14:55 remaining.
Battle started to take things into his own hands with his tenacious dribble penetration, which forced the Tigers to have to foul the junior guard, letting Battle find some easy buckets at the charity strike (he finished with 12 points). Four straight free throws from Battle helped the Orange extend their lead to 48-35 with 10:33 remaining.
Howard started to get into a rhythm too, as he went to what was working for him all night in his pull up jumper. The senior point guard was starting to look like his old self, finishing with 12 points and 4 assists.
Marcquise Reed started to heat up for the Tigers, as he scored 7 straight points (he finished with 16 points), cutting Syracuse’s lead to 54-48 with 4:46 remaining. A pair of free throws from Dolezaj, followed by a Brissett jumper helped the Orange take care of business, as they held off the final Clemson run.
Video recap from our own Dylan Finer:
The Orange are back at it again on Friday as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets come into the Carrier Dome. That game tips at 6 pm and will air on ESPN2.