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FSU basketball takes down Syracuse in back-and-forth affair

Three straight ACC wins.

FSU Basketball/Twitter

Florida State basketball (10-5, 4-2 ACC) avenged their early season loss to the Syracuse Orange (8-9, 2-4 ACC) with a 76-71 win at the Carrier Dome on Saturday evening. Caleb Mills and RayQuan Evans combined for 34 points on 11-18 shooting to lead the ‘Noles to victory. The Seminoles shot 55% from the floor and were a scorching 12-20 from beyond the arc.

With the win, the Seminoles avenged their early season loss to the Orange. The Seminoles have now won three straight conference games. The ‘Noles have also won two straight games at the Carrier Dome.

Despite being without their most important player and playing a walk-on 15 minutes, the Seminoles went to frigid Syracuse, New York and posted their third straight W.



Moments that mattered

Osborne unavailable with ankle injury, McLeod makes first career start

Malik Osborne was unavailable against the Syracuse as he wore a boot on his left ankle. The senior has been dealing with the injury since the Wake Forest game, but missed his first game of the season on Saturday. Entering Saturday, Osborne led FSU in rebounds and minutes. He was also second on the team with 11.1 points per game.

In his place, Naheem McLeod made his first career start. With Tanor Ngom already out with a knee injury, Quincy Ballard was also forced into action four minutes into the game. In FSU’s previous five games, Ballard had played just one minute.

Syracuse starts hot

The Orange got off to a hot start behind the sharp shooting of Cole Swider. Swider began the game 3-4 from the floor with two triples for eight early points. Syracuse made seven of their first 10 shots. While the Orange found an offensive rhythm, the ‘Noles struggled to settle in against Syracuse’s zone defense. The ‘Noles went on a drought of 3:39 as they turned the ball over once and missed a pair of free throws. Swider’s second triple put Cuse up 20-11 halfway through the first half.

Prieto helps ignite FSU run

With the absence of Osborne, walk-on Harrison Prieto also saw first half action at center. Prieto entered the game with 5:18 remaining in the first half and FSU down ten. Matthew Cleveland made a jumper to cut the deficit back to single digits. After an offensive rebound, Cleveland found Prieto in the paint for a layup. The big man forced a Syracuse turnover on the following possession (his second steal in as many Syracuse possessions), leading to a triple from Anthony Polite. Polite’s triple capped an 8-0 FSU run, which took only 1:14 off the clock. The Seminoles trailed 30-26 at the final media timeout of the half.

‘Noles head into half down one after a pair of triples

The Seminoles headed into half down 37-36 after three-pointers on back-to-back possessions by Wyatt Wilkes and Caleb Mills. In the first matchup between these two teams, FSU was just 4-30 from beyond the arc. At half in Syracuse, the Seminoles were 5-10 from deep. The Seminoles shot 53.8% from the field, while the Orange shot 54.2%.

Mills led the Seminoles with 8 points and four assists. Cleveland, Polite, and Wilkes each contributed five first half points. Syracuse’s Joseph Girard led all scorers with 11 points.

Evans, FSU catch fire from beyond the arc

RayQuan Evans, the hero from FSU’s last-second win over Miami, scored just two points in the first half. The senior came out of the locker room with a purpose. On FSU’s second possession of the half, Evans converted an and-one to give the Seminoles’ a one-point lead.

Moments later, the point guard drained his first triple to extend the lead to four. Another triple from Swider cut into FSU’s lead, but the ‘Noles led 47-45 at the first media timeout of the half after Mills’ third triple.

Questionable call, three pointers swingsmomentum back in Syracuse’s favor

Through eight minutes of the second half, the Seminoles seemingly had all momentum. That was until a questionable call by ACC refs cost FSU three points and the Orange began to find their rhythm from deep. Cleveland looked to have another FSU and-one, but he was called for a charge. See for yourself:

A minute later, Swider and Boeheim hit back-to-back triples to retake the lead from the Seminoles. A layup by Symir Torrence, capped a 10-0 Cuse run. After a wide open dunk by Edwards, Leonard Hamilton took a timeout.

Out of the timeout, a layup by Jesse Edwards tied the game at 47. Evans responded again with his second triple to put the lead back in FSU’s hands. Wilkes hit his second triple, FSU’s fourth make from three in the first six minutes of the half, to put the Seminoles up six with 14:15 remaining.

Mills’ three-point shooting puts FSU in the driver seat

Out of the timeout, Mills hit a crucial triple to knot the game at 64 with 6:29 remaining. Two minutes later, with the game still knotted at 64, Mills hit another triple. It was his fifth make in six attempts from beyond the arc. FSU led 67-64 at the final media timeout. Heading into the timeout, the Seminoles had held the Orange scoreless for nearly four full minutes. The defensive effort and Mills’ shooting put the ‘Noles in the driver seat for the final stretch of the game.

Wilkes hits massive triple

The Orange cut FSU’s lead to one after four straight points by Boeheim. The Seminoles had to have a big shot to quiet the Orange crowd, and they got it from Wilkes. Mills found Wilkes in the corner late in the shot clock for his third triple. The three-pointer put the Seminoles up 72-68 with just over two minutes remaining.

‘Noles make the plays late to ice win

The lead was cut back to three as Edwards went 1-2 at the free throw line. The ‘Noles handed the ball back to Syracuse after a turnover by Wilkes. Syracuse capitalized with second chance points from Jimmy Boeheim to cut FSU’s lead to one. On the following possession, the ‘Noles weren’t able to get a shot attempt as they turned the ball over for the second straight possession. Syracuse inbounded the ball down one with 30 seconds remaining.

Boeheim was denied by the front end of the rim and Evans was able to reel in the rebound. Polite threw it up the court for a Cleveland dunk. Evans intercepted the following inbounds pass and made two free throws to seal the win.

FSU notables

Mills: 19 pts (6-9 FG, 5-6 3PT), 5 ast, 2 stl

Evans: 15 pts (5-9 FG, 2-4 3PT), 5 ast, 2 stl

Wilkes: 11 pts, 3 ast

Polite: 7 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast

Up next: Florida State will return home on Tuesday to face the Duke Blue Devils (14-2, 4-1 ACC). The Blue Devils are ranked eight in the country. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 PM from the Tucker Center. The game will be televised on ESPN.