NC State-Syracuse Preview

NC State-Syracuse Preview

Published Mar. 13, 2014 11:37 p.m. ET

C.J. Fair's clutch shot rescued Syracuse in the last meeting with North Carolina State.

The senior is a big reason why the No. 11 Orange aren't entering this matchup riding a three-game losing streak.

Fair looks to build on perhaps his best shooting display of the season, as the second-seeded Orange look to begin their first ACC tournament in strong fashion against the seventh-seeded Wolfpack on Friday night.

Syracuse (27-4) opened the season with a tremendous 25-game winning streak, as it reached No. 1 in the AP poll. That outstanding start, however, nearly ended at home against North Carolina State on Feb. 15, but Fair's layup with 6.7 seconds left in regulation cinched a 56-55 victory.


The Orange's winning streak ended four days later with a 62-59 overtime loss to Boston College, the first of four defeats over five games.

Fair prevented Syracuse from another loss Sunday, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the second half of a 74-58 victory at Florida State.

"Momentum can be a funny thing," coach Jim Boeheim said. "We turned it around last year in one game. You can do that, and this will help us."

A strong run in the ACC tournament should also help after finishing 14-4 in conference play, two games back of sixth-ranked Virginia.

"We want to use this tournament to get us in rhythm for the NCAA tournament," Fair said. "We don't want to be one-and-done here, and then have to wait for the tournament. You want to get things rolling now."

Fair could play a major part in a deep ACC run after totaling 50 points over the past two games. He was averaging 14.0 while making 38.0 percent from the field - 3 for 18 from beyond the arc - over the previous eight contests. The forward may have shaken out of that funk by hitting 9 of 13 field goals against the Seminoles.

Aside from his key basket in the final seconds, Fair struggled against North Carolina State last month by missing 11 of 16 from the floor to finish with 11 points.

Jerami Grant had 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in that meeting, and the sophomore forward is coming off 16 and eight from Sunday.

The Wolfpack (20-12) are aiming to reach the ACC semifinals for the third straight time after ousting 10th-seed Miami 67-58 on Thursday.

Another meeting with Syracuse seems to be providing North Carolina State with some added motivation, but coach Mark Gottfried claims it's not about payback.

"We played well up there, but we let one get away," he said. "We were in a position to win and we didn't close it out. It's not about payback. It's about opportunity, and we've got an opportunity that is golden. Couldn't ask for a better one."

T.J. Warren, the ACC's top scorer, had a game-high 23 points against the Orange last month, and he enters this matchup averaging 32.3 points while sinking 56.7 percent from the floor over the past six contests.

The sophomore forward connected on half of his 18 attempts to finish with 24 points against the Hurricanes.

Ralston Turner scored 22 on Thursday, four more than his total over the previous three games.

"T.J. is a great player. We all know it," Gottfried said. "Our players know T.J. is a great player, but he needs other people to help him score. Ralston stepped up."