WINSTON-SALEN, N.C. — In a game where not much went well on either end of the floor, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (14-8, 5-6) lost to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (14-7, 6-4) 99-70 on Saturday night and dropped back-to-back games for the first time since the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in mid-November.
The Orange allowed Wake Forest to shoot as well as 71% from the field (29/41 overall and 10/15 from three) at one point during the game. Syracuse went down north of 30 points as Wake Forest continued to not miss during most of the second half, and the Orange simply had neither the defensive stops nor the offensive firepower needed to keep up with the Demon Deacons. Syracuse is now 1-6 versus Q1 opponents and a game that had potential to boost the Orange’s NCAA Tournament bid chances turned into a complete disaster.
J.J. Starling finished with a team-high 15 points on 6/10 shooting in the double-digit loss, while Judah Mintz (13 points and 6 assists on 5/9 shooting), Justin Taylor (10 points) and Quadir Copeland (11 points) were the only other members of the Orange to reach double-digits in points. Syracuse shot 40% from the field compared to 66% overall for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest also shot 12/19 (63%) from three, with Hunter Sallis’ 24 points and Kevin Miller’s 21 points leading the way for the Demon Deacons.
Syracuse went scoreless for nearly three minutes and faced an early 5-0 deficit after a made three followed by a dunk from Carr. The Orange did force Wake Forest to turn the ball over five times in roughly the game’s first four minutes, which allowed Syracuse to breakaway in transition early on. Bell started off 0/3 but scored a layup off a Demon Deacons turnover, while Mintz threw down a monster jam off a steal to make it 7-4 by the first media timeout.
Judah with the steal and throwdown!— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 4, 2024
After Mintz drilled a three at the top of the key to tie the game, Wake Forest’s offense started to catch fire after a scoring drought which lasted just over three minutes. The Demon Deacons went on an 8-0 run, which forced Adrian Autry to call timeout after Syracuse went scoreless for over three minutes since Mintz’s three (the Orange’s only basket in the half court through eight minutes of game time). The Orange began the game shooting 3/14 (21%) from the field and trailed 15-7 with 12 minutes left in the first half.
Syracuse responded to some early scoring bursts from the Demon Deacons — Williams and Mintz each scored after the timeout to cut the deficit to four points while Copeland knocked down a three to again halt a major run by the Demon Deacons. However, Wake Forest’s 5/9 start from three kept the Orange behind at 23-15.
The Demon Deacons continued a 10-0 scoring run and went up as much as 15 points before Starling nailed a corner three-pointer to briefly cut yet another scoring drought for Syracuse. During this stretch toward the end of the first half, Wake Forest made seven of its nine shots and went up 34-20 with three minutes left in the half.
The Demon Deacons made their last five shots in the first half while the Orange made four of their last five, including a tough mid-range jumper from Mintz with two seconds left in the half. The Orange trailed 42-28 and ended the first half shooting just 34% from the field compared to Wake Forest’s 64% first-half field goal percentage.
Mintz gets the steal ➡️ Copeland with the jam pic.twitter.com/yYqelXBYvp— The CW Sports (@TheCW_Sports) February 4, 2024
Mintz scored 13 points on 5/7 shooting, but the rest of the Orange combined to shoot 5/22 overall as no one else scored more than four points in the first half.
After starting 0/5 in the game, Taylor finally knocked down his first three to cut the Orange’s deficit back to 12 points (44-32). After Taylor hit another three, Wake Forest’s offense regained showed no signs of slowing down as the Demon Deacons took a 58-38 lead.
Things only grew worse as Wake Forest climbed north of 70% shooting from the field with seven and a half minutes left to go, and Syracuse trailed 81-52 with no chance at this point of pulling off a miraculous comeback.
After two straight losses, Syracuse will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday night back at the JMA Wireless Dome versus Louisville.