ON POINT: Syracuse uses 2nd-half run to escape upset bid from High Point

first_imgC.J. Fair couldn’t tell you why he reacted the way he did after his ferocious slam during the second half. Syracuse was up double digits and the win was already in hand — the Orange had a 28-3 run to thank for that.But he still swung his fist and let out a yell after banging down a baseline dunk on top of High Point forward John Brown.“I don’t know what was going through my head, but I was angry for some reason,” Fair said. “I was just in the moment because I just felt as though this game wasn’t going how we wanted it to go.”For the first 25 minutes it didn’t. No. 2 SU trailed late in the first half and entered the break with just a three-point lead. The Panthers (3-7) retook the lead early in the second before Fair, who finished with 15 points, and point guard Tyler Ennis, who logged 10 points and nine assists, ignited Syracuse (11-0) on the run that sealed a convincing 75-54 win for the 19,473 in the Carrier Dome on Friday. SU’s defense only yielded 20 second-half points and was equally important as the offensive output in the late surge.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe run started as 11 unanswered and eventually blossomed into a 28-3 stretch that put away any semblance of the scare that the first 25 minutes provided.In a flash, things went from scary to simple.Up by just one point early in the second half, Ennis finally came alive. He had just four points during the first half, but matched that in all of 10 seconds.Ennis knifed through traffic to drop in a layup and stretch the Orange’s lead to three. Then the ball was back in his hands when he stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid in another two points.“It’s just peripherals, I guess,” Ennis said. “It’ll only happen every few games, but when I do get the chance hopefully I’m in the place to get it.”Everything started to click. Jerami Grant knocked down all six of his free throws. He entered Friday as a 60.8 percent free-throw shooter, but before he left the game with a left ankle sprain he was perfect, including two to continue SU’s 11-0 run.Trevor Cooney, who St. John’s locked down in New York less than a week ago, drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Even an uncharacteristic bomb that hit the rim rattled home during the run.And the defense, which was nonexistent during the first half, forced 15 turnovers in the second after just four in the first and held High Point to just three points during a 12:45 stretch in the second.“The second half our defense was just better,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “When you’re not active you don’t force turnovers. … And that got us out, got us some easy baskets on the other end.”High Point was making just 29 percent of its 3-point attempts entering Friday. Against the Orange, the Panthers sunk 6-of-12 during the opening frame to scare the Dome crowd. HPU controlled the clock, often running the shot clock down to the final seconds before chucking up a 3 that went in half of the time.Midway through the second half, Dejuan McGaughy twirled around as the shot-clock buzzer sounded. Off his back foot, the High Point guard tossed up a shot that appeared to miss the buzzer, but the ball banked home for his second consecutive long jumper.“They were making some big shots,” Ennis said. “Second half we tried to take away those shots and I think we did a better job defensively of getting out into transition and scoring the ball a little bit.”The Panthers’ shots stopped dropping in the second half, but more often they weren’t even getting up. HPU committed two shot-clock violations and attempted just 20 shots to SU’s 32.The long possessions that marked High Point’s competitive first frame were still there in the second, but the extra ones vanished. Syracuse and the Panthers each grabbed 12 boards in the first half, but the Orange notched a plus-five rebound margin during the second.Ennis called that the key, but it was just a part of the bigger picture. Once SU became aggressive on the defensive end, worry vanished and the highlight plays became worth celebrating.“Defense wins games and we wasn’t getting stops and we wasn’t scoring consistently enough to take over the game from there,” Fair said, “but once we got some stops and steals and turnovers we kind of took the lead from there.” Comments Published on December 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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