Both offenses struggled to start the game, but the Clemson Tigers picked things up on the offensive end in the second half to dismantle the Syracuse Orange by a final score of 67-55. The loss to Clemson marked the fourth time in five games that the Orange faltered in the second half after holding a first half lead.
Syracuse started slowly offensive end out of the gate, but the defense was stout in forcing turnovers and missed Clemson shots. The Tigers turned the ball over 10 times in the first 20 minutes against the Syracuse 2-3 zone while shooting just 7-28 from the floor and 2-10 from distance.
Conversely, the Syracuse offense picked up a bit throughout the first half by and large thanks to bench production. Paschal Chukwu picked up two quick fouls and Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe stepped up to score 10 points and grab 6 rebounds combined. Buddy Boeheim scored 7 first half points and Syracuse went into the break with a 31-24 lead.
Clemson came out aggressive in the second half and quickly whittled into Syracuse’s lead. A pair of Marcquise Reed made 3s and plays from Elijah Thomas allowed the Tigers to regain the lead at 40-38 and Clemson wouldn’t trail again in the contest.
Brad Brownell’s group continued to dig in on the defensive end, fueling the Clemson run. Syracuse fought back with big 3s from Oshae Brissett and Buddy Boeheim though and managed to keep the game within striking distance but the Orange would go cold shortly thereafter. A 10 minute Syracuse scoring drought which included a fifth Frank Howard foul and Paschal Chukwu sprained ankle authored a double-digit Clemson lead.
The Orange couldn’t quite make a run against Clemson in the closing minutes and as a result fell to 19-12 and 10-8 in the conference. The Tigers picked up a quadrant two win over Syracuse and put itself in good standing to earn an at-large berth in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Brissett finished as the high point man with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Battle finished his night with 10 points on 3-11 shooting while also taking a nasty fall on his back toward the end of the game. Buddy Boeheim had 11 points off the bench.
Syracuse finished shooting 37.5 percent for the game and turned the ball over 18 times.
Syracuse will play on Wednesday in Charlotte as part of the ACC Tournament. Depending on the results from other conference members, the Orange will play as either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed. It’s win or go home for Syracuse from here on out.