The Syracuse Orange probably should have blown the Miami Hurricanes out of the building on Saturday. The Orange were clicking on all cylinders at the start of the game and led by as many as 18 points. But after building that substantial lead, the Orange took their foot off the gas and appeared to get bored with their opponent, which has happened on several occasions this season.
Syracuse was essentially sleepwalking through the latter stages of the first-half and the early portion of the second-half. The Orange got lazy on defense which allowed the Hurricanes to hit outside shots and climb back into the game. But Miami deserves a great deal of credit for continuing to fight after the second-ranked Orange opened up a sizable lead early in the game.
Miami actually came all the way back and took a lead in the second-half. But just as Syracuse has done all season — when they wanted needed to at least — they flipped a switch and put forth the effort necessary to take control of the game. Senior C.J. Fair and freshman Tyler Ennis both made winning plays down the stretch while Trevor Cooney hit a timely three-point shot to seal victory for the Orange.
Despite sleepwalking throughout nearly half the game, Syracuse won by a comfortable margin after dominating the early and late portions of the game. The Orange also dominated Miami on the boards all game long which was an issue for Syracuse in their close win against Pittsburgh last week. By rebounding at a high rate, Miami had to work that much harder to erase their deficit, making it tough for them to contain the Orange when Syracuse flipped a switch late in the game.
The win ensures that Syracuse remains the top team in the ACC and means they are just one game away from entering their highly anticipated showdown with the Duke Blue Devils next Saturday with a record of 20-0.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him on Google.