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Saturday, Feb 17, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Syracuse Get Much Needed Win in South Beach

By James Groh

Syracuse traveled down to South Beach in need of a win. That’s exactly what the Orange got as it beat Miami 62-55.

Despite seven lead changes, the Orange controlled most of the game. In the second half, the only time ‘Cuse trailed was the first minute and a half. Marek Dolezaj hit a jumper with 18:21 to give Syracuse a 29-28 lead. From that point on, the Orange would keep the Hurricanes at bay.

A large part of this win was due Syracuse distributing the ball. Four different players scored in double figures.

“That’s the difference,” guard Frank Howard said. When we get contribution from everyone that’s what I think when we are at our best.”

The junior recorded a game-high 18 points. Despite Tyus Battle shooting just 4-14, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said the team made up for that lack of efficiency.

“Oshae and Marek and Frank had really good games and were able to pick it up,” Boeheim said.

Brissett finished with another double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. That marked the freshman’s 10th double-double this season. He has also had the hot hand in the past couple of games. Brissett has played so well the past few games because he pushes himself to get at least 10 rebounds a game, he said.

“Rebounding is something I take pride in,” Brissett said. “When I don’t get 10 or up there I feel like I’m not doing my part to help the team.”

It wasn’t always easy down the stretch for Syracuse. Miami battled its way back after the Orange went on a 15-0 run. The Hurricanes tied the game just after the 10-minute mark of the second half, and the teams traded blows for the remainder of the game. Miami stayed within five points of Syracuse’s lead.

It came down to the wire, but the lead was something Brissett said his team wasn’t going to give up.

“We knew they were going to go on any run at any time, Brissett said. “We never got complacent with any lead we had especially on the road, so we knew anything can happen.”

With that mentality, Syracuse played smart basketball. The Orange kept its emotions together and played the mental game well, Boeheim said.

In one instance, Syracuse coughed up the ball and it looked as if Miami would get an easy bucket and swing the momentum in its favor. However, Dolezaj tracked down the Hurricane player and commit a reach in foul to stop the play. It was because of those high-IQ plays that Syracuse never went down in the second half.

Going forward the Orange have a tough schedule. Three of the four teams it will face are ranked in the AP top-15 in North Carolina, Duke and Clemson. Howard said that with the looming tournament the team picks up the pace.

“This is why you come to college. This time of year,” Howard said. “The energy picks up. The focus picks up. Guys understand how big the opportunity is…it’s a kind of unspoken thing you could ask anyone playing this position whether they be 0 and 20 its still a different level.”

Syracuse hosts North Carolina in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday.