Syracuse wins ACC Tournament opener versus Wake Forest
'Cuse beats Wake in ACC Tournament opener
It was a total team effort. All starters scored in double digits and the team shot a combined 54.8 percent across the field. Yet, it was the defensive effort that mattered most. Contrary to the last meeting between these teams—when failing to guard the 3-point line cost them the game—Syracuse held Wake Forest to 20.7 percent (6-29 FGA) from beyond the arc tonight.
Forward Marek Dolezaj, who averaged 4.7 points per game this season going into today’s game, put up a career-high 20 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 8-10 shooting from the charity stripe. Just when the Demon Deacons were creeping back into the game—Wake Forest trailed 63-70 with 3:13 remaining in the second half—Dolezaj made some fantastic plays on both ends, including a block leading to an alley-oop to center Pascal Chukwu. Chukwu had 14 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in the 35 minutes he played.
Tyus Battle scored 18 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute. When asked about Dolezaj’s improvement, Battle said “He’s always made good decisions in the middle. He’s developed a jump shot. He’s just been aggressive in making the right play.”
Head Coach Jim Boeheim also commented on Dolezaj’s performance, saying “When they went into the zone, they left him in open spots, and he converted in fast break situations. When they pressed, he took the ball to the basket. They didn’t guard him in the high post area and he can make that shot.”
Frank Howard finished with 11 points, 5 assists and 3 steals. Oshae Brissett added 10 points to go along with his 9 boards.
For Syracuse, this win keeps hopes of earning an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament alive.
Next up, Syracuse squares off with North Carolina tomorrow night at 9pm. The Tar Heels prevailed in the teams’ last meeting 78-74 in the Carrier Dome. Carolina forward Theo Pinson led the way with 23 points.