Senior guard Michael Gbinije scored a quiet 14 points in the first half to lead all scorers. He did have four turnovers, but it was overlooked by how well the Orange came out offensively. As a team, SU had 11 first-half turnovers, which was uncharacteristic of this squad. The Seminoles scored 16 points off those 11 turnovers, which was a main reason they kept it close.
The turnovers continued in the second half, but it didn't come back to bite SU on their way to a 13-point victory.
The Orange scored 42 first-half points on 59% shooting from the field. They went 5-of-10 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Everything simply went their way in the first half. The only problem was, they gave up 39 first-half points, which didn't sit well with the Hall-of-Famer.
"In the first half we played very well offensively," SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. "We just stopped playing defense and gave them some open looks. We let them get on the offensive glass."
FSU had ten offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to ten second-chance points. The Noles' have two spectacular freshmen, Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon. Both of which were top 50 recruits, and both committed to Florida State on the same evening. Tonight, in the first half, they combined for 21 of FSU's 39 points. Beasley took 11 shots while Bacon took six.
Dajuan Coleman got the Orange going in the second half by scoring their first six points. The 6-0 Coleman run gave SU a 48-39 lead. Richardson added a layup to make it 50-39 with 17:51 remaining in the game.
"The fact that he had six straight points and we went up nine or ten was enough of an effect," Boeheim said when asked about the emotional lift Coleman provides. "I'm not sure what my emotions are, let alone their emotions. We got a couple guys that don't have any emotions."
Florida State couldn't quite put together a run against SU's stingy second-half defense. They held the Seminoles to 20 percent from behind-the-arc, and 40% from the field.
Syracuse got out to a 17-3 run to start the second half, and led by as many as 24 points.
The key to their success? The Orange held Bacon and Beasley to four total second-half points.
FSU cut SU's lead to 12 points with 14:00 remaining, but the Orange went on a 7-2 run to extend their lead back to 15. After that, they never looked back.
Michael Gbinije scored a game-high 22 points while tying a career-high with eight rebounds.
"They were big on the interior," Gbinije said. "We just wanted to limit as many second chances opportunities as we could."
Midway through the second half, freshman forward Malachi Richardson went down hard and was slow to get up.
"I just cramped up," Richardson said. "I knew it right away." Syracuse fans, however, did not know it right away.
Exactly 13 months ago today, former SU forward Chris McCullough tore his ACL against the Seminoles at the Carrier Dome. Tonight, many Syracuse fans were reminded of that when Malachi went down.
"I'm so glad it was just a cramp," 5th-year guard Michael Gbinije said. "It kinda reminded me of Chris. And he was here tonight. And, fun fact, it was the same shoes. That's weird to think about."
Richardson returned to the game a few minutes later. He finished the game with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Tyler Lydon notched his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and corralling ten rebounds.
The Orange were very impressive on the glass tonight, winning that battle 35-28. The plus-seven rebounding margin is even more impressive knowing that the Noles played two big men over 7-feet tall.
Syracuse improved to 17-8 overall, 7-5 in the ACC.
Their next game is Sunday, February 14th at Boston College. Tip off if scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. The Orange won their first matchup with the Eagles, 62-40, back on January 13.