Syracuse’s 2nd half run leads to blowout win over Wake Forest

first_img Comments WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When Tyus Battle was told how long Wake Forest went without making a basket in the second half — nearly 14 minutes — all he could do was laugh.He had no idea how long the Demon Deacons had been stifled by the Syracuse zone. After WFU’s Sharone Wright Jr. made back-to-back baskets on the first two offensive possessions of the second half, SU led by just five.The same Syracuse problems, inadequate defensive rebounding and second-chance points, allowed the Demon Deacons to sneak back into a game the Orange needed to solidify their NCAA Tournament resume. But that was only temporary.Syracuse (19-10, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) dominated the second half after the game narrowed to five points, downing Wake Forest (11-17, 4-12), 79-54. A 27-4 run that spanned nearly 14 minutes, where Wake Forest failed to make a single field goal, defined a performance that cleaned up the defensive woes SU had against No. 5 North Carolina earlier this week. Saturday, Syracuse created WFU 23 turnovers and held the Demon Deacons to just six second-half field goals as the Orange went on the road and smothered an ACC bottom-dweller.“When you limit teams to just one shot per possession, it makes the game a lot easier,” Battle said. “And that’s what we did tonight.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEven when SU did force misses from the Tar Heels on Tuesday, it failed to secure rebounds, and the Tar Heels’ offense made them pay to the tune of 93 total points, the most SU has allowed this season. Battle said that SU head coach Jim Boeheim stressed the Orange’s defensive activity and energy in practice in between the two games.“Us guards had to be better defensively,” Battle said. “We weren’t doing a good enough job keeping guards in front of us, so we focused on that.”After Wright Jr.’s baskets, Syracuse’s length flustered the Demon Deacons. The Orange began to separate from WFU off two Oshae Brissett free throws, which were quickly followed by back-to-back Battle field goals. While the Demon Deacons had a few second chance opportunities in the first half, they scored just two points in the second off offensive rebounds.Syracuse turned over WFU on three-straight possessions, and when Wake Forest did attempt a shot, they were long, contested 3s from what Boeheim described as “bad shooters.” As the WFU shots missed, Syracuse turned defense into offense by punishing the ACC’s worst 2-point defense. Senior center Paschal Chukwu tallied nine points, four rebounds and three blocks.“Part of that was Paschal,” Boeheim said. “I thought he was good defensively, which he hasn’t been.”Defensively, Chukwu’s anticipation and movement along with the guards kept the ball out of the paint with 14 WFU turnovers in the second half alone. While the Demon Deacons found early success getting the ball into the short corner or the foul line extended for open shots, Chukwu said the Orange knew they could take the chances away with more defensive activity.“We started real slow, but it’s all about movement and making them take shots they don’t want to take,” Chukwu said. “… We know where they are trying to get the ball, it’s all about movement, making plays, getting to your spot.”Later in the SU run, Wake Forest had its first spell of offensive rebounds of the half. Chaundee Brown’s shot attempt was blocked by Chukwu, and as the fight for the rebound underneath ensued, Chukwu again contested the Sunday Okeke put-back attempt.A rebound scrum left the ball in the hands of Okeke again, who kicked to Brandon Childress. Childress couldn’t covert, and WFU’s most attacking possession in multiple minutes came up empty.SU secured the rebound and pushed up the floor. Elijah Hughes again had a chance for an alley-oop from senior Frank Howard. The two connected for a long alley-oop on the opening play of the second half, but this time, Hughes came from the opposite left corner, and Howard’s long, diagonal pass was slammed home.The next possession, WFU probed the SU zone for almost the entire shot clock until Brown threw the ball away. Hughes missed the 3-point attempt following, but Chukwu cleaned up the glass and finished the lay-in.Hughes intercepted a pass off Brown seconds later, finishing the easy lay-in for two of his 18 points after he played some of his most aggressive offense of the season during the run.By the time Wake Forest made a field goal, a Torry Johnson 3 from the right corner, the Demon Deacons trailed by 25 with just 5:42 to play. The game was over, and Syracuse’s defense had pushed it to its 10th conference win, a number it couldn’t reach last season.“We had a 14-point lead, it gets down to 5, you’re on the road, you never know what’s gonna happen in those games,” Boeheim said. “Our defense was really pretty good.” Published on March 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm Contact Anthony: [email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img