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Syracuse uses late run to defeat Miami and remain undefeated

Miami fought and clawed all afternoon against undefeated Syracuse, battling all the way back from an 18-point first half deficit to take a one-point lead in the final nine minutes.

The Hurricanes even made 9 of their 16 attempts from beyond the arc.

But it just wasn’t enough.

Syracuse, just as it did earlier this month, showed why it’s the second ranked team in the country, outscoring Miami 15-3 over the final five minutes to defeat the Hurricanes 64-52 Saturday afternoon at the Bank United Center.

Miami climbed back into the contest thanks to its hot three-point shooting. Davon Reed nailed a 3-pointer to cut Syracuse’s lead to 56-54 and then followed that up with layup and free throw to give Miami its first lead of the ballgame at 47-46 with 8:20 remaining.

Tyler Ennis answered for Syracuse with a conventional three point play of his own to give the Orange a 49-47 lead that was followed by two James Kelly free throws that tied the game with 5:01 left.

Miami’s offense went ice cold from there though, unable to close out the Orange much like it failed to do in the Carrier Dome on January 4th.

Ennis and CJ Fair hit jumpers on back-to-back possessions to put the Orange up four. Then after Donnavan Kirk made one of two free throws to pull Miami to within three, Trevor Cooney hit a cold blooded three-pointer, his third of the day, with 2:25 left to put Syracuse up 56-50 and put Miami (10-9, 2-5) away for good.

“I thought that was a very, very good college basketball game right up until maybe the last minute and a half,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “I thought we were right where we needed to be, where we wanted to be, but Syracuse is that good. Tyler Ennis is that good. I told our players, ‘This is when he starts to attack, six, seven minutes left in the game.’ He’s did it up at their place when we played them, he did it against Pittsburgh, he did it at Boston College. He’s just an outstanding freshman.”

Ennis finished with 14 points while Jerami Grant led Syracuse with 16. CJ Fair also added 13 points and Cooney scored 11.

While Syracuse made clutch shots down the stretch Miami failed to, going more than seven minutes without a field goal after Reed’s and-one layup gave the Hurricanes their only lead of the game. Garrius Adams finally made a jumper with 46 seconds on the clock but it was too little too late as Syracuse (19-0, 6-0) made eight straight free throws in the final minute to remain undefeated.

It could have easily not even been a close game.

Through the first twelve minutes of the first half it looked as if Miami was going to get blown out at home for the second straight game. After losing to Duke 67-46 Wednesday night, Miami fell behind 26-8 Saturday afternoon and had no continuity on offense while Syracuse put together a 16-1 run over a seven-minute span.

Miami was able to make it a game before halftime thanks to an 18-5 run that included four three-pointers by Adams, Manu Lecomte, Rion Brown, and Reed to cut Syracuse’s lead to 31-26 at the half.

“We dug ourselves a hole down 18 but we worked ourselves back in,” Larranaga said. “We were only down five at the half and took a one-point lead. It’s seesaw until the end. I’m proud of the guys and I only wish that we figured out a way to win this one.”

Reed led Miami with 16 points and Brown added 13 but it just wasn’t enough for the Hurricanes, who have now lost three of their last four.

Miami will next head to Maryland to face the Terrapins Wednesday night.