CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) – With Syracuse and Miami going at it zone to zone, the Orange made the last stand.
No. 2 Syracuse held Miami without a field goal for 7 1/2 minutes down the stretch and made eight consecutive free throws in the final minute to remain unbeaten with a 64-52 victory Saturday.
Both teams played zone defense throughout and made points tough to come by for long stretches. The Hurricanes led 47-46 with less than 7 minutes to go but hit only one field goal the rest of the way.
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”When we had to stop them, we stopped them,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said.
Syracuse (19-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) needs one more victory to tie the school record for most wins to start a season, set two years ago. The ACC newcomers beat defending league champion Miami (10-9, 2-5) for the second time in three weeks.
”I don’t care what our record is – we’ve had seven games, including this one, that could have easily gone the other way,” Boeheim said. ”All seven games, somebody has made a play. That’s a good attribute to have, but it also reminds you that you’re perilously close to having three or four losses.”
Miami again forced Syracuse into a methodical pace that made easy shots infrequent. The game was nearly 30 minutes old before either side made a fast-break basket.
Jerami Grant had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Orange.
”It hasn’t been a breeze at all being No. 2,” Grant said. ”You’re always going to get the best from whomever we’re playing.”
A 39-24 rebounding advantage helped Syracuse hold off Miami.
Davon Reed scored 16 points for the Hurricanes, who kept it close by shooting 9 of 17 from 3-point range.
The game drew a sellout crowd, the seventh in coach Jim Larranaga’s three seasons with the attendance-challenged Hurricanes. The stands were a sea of orange, including plenty of visiting or transplanted New Yorkers rooting for Syracuse.
Both sides were roaring when Miami made a comeback after trailing by 18 points in the first half. The Orange had to rally in the final minutes to beat Miami three weeks ago, and the Hurricanes again had an upset on their minds.
Reed hit a 3-pointer that cut Syracuse’s lead to 46-44, then converted a three-point play on the next possession to put them ahead for the first time since the opening minute.
The Orange dug in. Miami missed its next six shots and trailed 58-50 before making another basket, and by then the game was in the final minute.
”Basically what it says is they’re really good,” Larranaga said. ”They have all the weapons offensively and defensively you need to be successful, and they’re a legitimate contender to win a national championship. They’ve got NBA guys.”
Freshman Tyler Ennis’ driving layup put Syracuse ahead to stay, 51-49, with 4:45 left. The Orange shot only 17 for 27 from the free throw line but made them all in the last minute.
”One thing they do excellent is closing out down the stretch and having poise,” Reed said.
Ennis scored 14 points, including seven in the last 6:09.
”That’s when he starts to attack – six or seven minutes left in the game,” Larranaga said. ”He doesn’t appear to be a freshman. He’s so calm out there. You don’t really see that in a college player unless he’s highly skilled, and Tyler Ennis is.”
Ennis added five rebounds and four assists. C.J. Fair had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Trevor Cooney made three 3-pointers and scored 11 points for Syracuse.
Miami’s James Kelly was helped to the locker room with 3 1/2 minutes to go with a sprained left ankle, an injury which seemed to deflate the Hurricanes. They fell to 4-6 at home this season.
The Orange, who shot 3 for 15 from 3-point range in their earlier game against Miami, this time made their first three shots from behind the arc. Syracuse went on a 16-1 run to build its big early lead.
”We got off to an unbelievable start,” Boeheim said. ”I thought we moved the ball as well as we moved it all year.”
The Hurricanes rallied with a 16-2 spurt and trailed only 31-26 at halftime. They shot 67 percent during one extended stretch spanning both halves, but that wasn’t enough.
”Against the Syracuse zone, you might be able to get something for a little while, like 3s from the wing or shots from the high post,” Larranaga said. ”But if you get it a couple of times in a row, they take it away.”