SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse struggled out of the gate in their ACC opener, giving up open looks from beyond the arc to defending ACC champion Miami and failing to get into a consistent rhythm offensively. Despite that, the Orange took a 25-21 lead into the locker room.
Throughout the half, head coach Jim Boeheim was not pleased with his team's effort, showing visible frustration with their lack of execution on both ends of the floor.
"People have held the ball against us all year," Boeheim said. "This was nothing new. We've seen that six or seven times. We've had good practice at it. We have to have a little more patience. This game started off like Villanova where we allowed them to shoot threes early."
The Orange came out in the second half even worse, going over eight minutes without a field goal. The Hurricanes took advantage, going on a 14-4 run over that span. Miami maintained their advantage throughout most of the second half. Syracuse could not get things going offensively; especially Trevor Cooney who missed several wide open looks from beyond the arc.
"I thought Trevor had some good looks," Boeheim said. "But he's not going to make those every night. We've been spoiled. He hasn't had a bad shooting night this year, really. But you're going to have them."
Trailing 40-35 with 6:11 left, Syracuse went on a decisive 8-0 run sparked by strong defense, and a couple of big plays by Rakeem Christmas.
"Rak had a big offensive rebound," Boeheim said. "I thought we made a couple big plays on offense and then our defense really stepped up. Rak took away the lob and then we really did a good job on the perimeter guys. We really played exceptional defense on their perimeter guys during that run where we got the lead."
During the run, there was a key sequence where Jerami Grant blocked a shot on the defensive end and then hit a jumper on offense. That drew Syracuse to within one. Senior forward C.J. Fair then hit a jumper off a Tyler Ennis pass to give the Orange their first lead since the 16:58 mark of the second half. Syracuse would not give the lead back.
Tyler Ennis and Trevor Cooney hit four free throws down the stretch and Syracuse escaped the school's first ever ACC conference game with a 49-44 victory. The win improved the Orange to 14-0 on the season, 1-0 in conference play.
Syracuse finished the game shooting just 36.2% from the floor. Fair led the way offensively with 15 points and six rebounds. Cooney, despite shooting 2-11 from beyond the arc, added 11 points. Ennis finished with 10 points, seven assists and three steals. Christmas added eight points and seven rebounds.
The Orange won the battle of the boards 29-27, and forced 15 Miami turnovers.
Syracuse next hit's the road to face Virginia Tech on Tuesday January 7th at 9:00pm eastern.