Syracuse, N.Y. -- Call ‘em the Cardiac Kids.
After narrowly escaping Pittsburgh Wednesday night on the road, top ranked Syracuse (25-0, 12-0) found itself in a similar situation against North Carolina State (16-9, 6-6) Saturday night at home in the Carrier Dome.
This time around it was veteran C.J. Fair -- not freshman sensation Tyler Ennis -- dashing the hopes of its opponent and converting a fast break layup with 12 seconds remaining to seal the 56-55 win over the Wolfpack.
"It was looking like it was going to be the first game where we made bad plays down the stretch," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We trapped on the sidelines the first time, got the turnover and couldn't convert it. But then we got the trap down on the baseline and (Rakeem) made a good play and stepped in."
The last-second layup came at the right time for Fair who struggled all night with his jumper. The senior finished with 11 points on five-of-16 shooting.
As a whole, Syracuse didn't shoot the ball particularly well, going 19-of-54 from the field (35.2 percent), two-of-12 from downtown (16.7 percent) and even missing a couple of key freebies from the charity stripe.
"Jeremy (Grant), Tyler and C.J. missed free throws," Boeheim continued. "We've been making them down the stretch."
Aside from missing crucial free throws, Ennis was called for an offensive foul just three seconds prior to Fair's heroics. It was his fourth turnover of the game -- an unlikely blemish for a youngster who has been playing like a seasoned veteran.
"Tyler has made nothing but good plays and tonight he made a couple bad ones," Boeheim said. "It was really what you would expect a freshman to do."
Christmas had an all-around complete night for the Orange on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The center stepped up and contributed 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.
"I thought he was good the whole game," Boeheim said. "He's learning to stay out of foul trouble. He wade a couple blocks there, he covered the middle pretty well. I thought he was really the difference in the game."
Christmas hunkered down in the second half and slowed North Carolina State's Kyle Washington down, limiting him to just four points after halftime.
The trio of Washington, T.J Warren (23 points on 11-of-22 shooting) and Ralston Turner (13 points on 3-of-8 shooting) led the Wolfpack.
Baye Moussa Keita did not dress as he is still nursing a knee injury. Boeheim said he "might be able to go" on Wednesday.
"He's been doing a little bit better," he said.
The Orange complete a home-and-home series with Boston College on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7p.m.
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