MBB : BY THE HORNS: Orange uses 26-0 run to pull away from Bulls, holds off late charge for win

first_img Published on February 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Comments Just one play away. That’s all Syracuse was. One play away from igniting a crushing run that has been the trademark of the Orange this season.The early 13-point deficit was no need to panic. Sure, the missed shots were puzzling. And the South Florida offense was picking apart the SU 2-3 zone.But as C.J. Fair pointed out, his team was only one play away.‘Just keeping our composure knowing that we’re not out of this game,’ Fair said. ‘And that’s how we carried ourselves. We’re just a play away from making a big run to get back in this game.’Fair made that play — a thundering two-handed dunk after Dion Waiters whipped a pass across the lane. It was a play that left USF head coach Stan Heath clutching his head with both hands, shocked that no charging foul was called on Waiters.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMost importantly, though, it was a play that kick-started a 26-0 Syracuse run. The Orange rebounded from the early deficit to charge into, and out of, halftime with the momentum. South Florida battled back relentlessly in what turned into a seesaw game of runs, but SU came out on top 56-48 courtesy of a 9-2 spurt in the game’s closing moments. A crowd of 25,316 in the Carrier Dome watched as the No. 2 Orange (28-1, 15-1 Big East) overcame three major surges by the Bulls (17-11, 10-5 Big East) and earned its eighth consecutive win, clinching a share of the regular-season Big East title.‘We were pissed,’ Heath said. ‘We thought we just kind of let it get away.’Heath said the early 18-5 lead was as good a script as he could have written for his South Florida team, but the lead didn’t last long.The Bulls went an incredible 11:23 without scoring that spanned parts of both halves. Syracuse flew into the locker room with a 24-20 lead after the abysmal start and came out red-hot to start the second half.Fab Melo opened the second 20 minutes with a three-point play after he was fouled while dunking an alley-oop from Scoop Jardine. Fair added a pair of free throws, and Jardine added two layups to finish off a 26-point swing.Syracuse had climbed back from the depths of a double-digit deficit to take a 33-20 lead just 2:03 into the second half.‘But you knew — they’re so good — that they were going to make a run,’ Heath said. ‘You just hope it wasn’t as long as what they did.’Still, South Florida fired right back. The Bulls refused to fold in a tough environment, putting together two more spurts of their own.A 9-0 run got them within five with 13:46 to go. And after the Orange pushed back in front by 12, an 11-0 run pulled USF within one point at 47-46.‘It was a team that never quit,’ Waiters said. ‘They never gave up, they never lost hope when we went up 14. … I tip my hat to South Florida. They came out and played with a lot of heart.’But then, as has been the case so many times this season, SU head coach Jim Boeheim turned to his two senior leaders. Jardine and forward Kris Joseph, who missed 11 of his first 14 shots Wednesday night, finally put South Florida away.With just less than five minutes remaining, Jardine drove down the right side of the paint, tossing up an-over-the-shoulder shot with his right hand. It kissed softly off the glass and fell through the net. He was fouled by USF’s Augustus Gilchrist and converted the three-point play.Boeheim dialed Joseph’s number on the next two possessions.First, he forced up a layup against tough defense by Victor Rudd Jr., got his own rebound and put the ball back in for the bucket. Then he spun into the lane missed a layup, missed a tip-in and finally converted on a third attempt to push the lead to six at 54-48 with 2:49 remaining.Waiters called those baskets ‘grown-man scrappy plays.’ Boeheim called them the difference in the game.‘I thought the game came down to Kris made two unbelievable rebound efforts, physical rebound efforts inside to get the ball back on his drives and made the two plays of the game right there,’ Boeheim said.Once again, SU’s two leaders got it done. This time with seven straight points to ensure the final run went to the Orange.‘We’ve been in these games all year, and our veteran guys have made plays coming down the stretch for us,’ Boeheim said. ‘That’s how you win these games.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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