With a 67-57 win at Wake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 29, the #2/2 Syracuse Orange matched its best start in program history with its 20th straight victory to begin the season.
The Orange (20-0, 7-0 ACC) also won 20 games just two years ago to begin the 2011-12 campaign. SU will look to break the record on Saturday, Feb. 1 against #17/16 Duke. The triumph also extends head coach Jim Boehiem's NCAA Division I record of 20-win seasons to 36. The loss was Wake Forest's (14-7, 4-4 ACC) first home setback of the season and snapped a 13-game home winning streak dating back to last year.
Freshman Tyler Ennis poured in a game-high 18 points - including 16 after the intermission – to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Senior C.J. Fair added 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals while sophomore Jerami Grant posted his team-best fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and a career high tying 12 boards.
SU's duo at center- senior Baye Moussa Keita and junior Rakeem Christmas - provided a solid contribution on both ends of the court for the second consecutive game. Keita recorded six points, eight boards and matched a career best with five blocks off the bench. Christmas finished with six points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Shooting percentages were fairly even with Syracuse holding a slight edge at 36.2-percent (21-58) to 34.0-percent (18-53). The Orange shot 48.1-percent (13-27) in the second half to help raise that total and pull away. SU also dominated the glass grabbing a season-best 55 boards to out-rebound Demon Deacons by 20.
Christmas opened the scoring with the game's first four points, but the Orange went cold - failing to convert a basket for nearly nine minutes – as Wake Forest scored 10 of the next 12 points to go ahead 12-6 midway through the half.
Three-balls by Fair and sophomore Michael Gbinije sandwiched around a putback slam from Keita had SU back in front for good at 16-13 with 7:38 to go. A Keita layup two minutes later capped a 13-2 run that extended the advantage to 21-14. Fair and Keita each scored six during the stretch.
Following a runner by Fair with 4:37 left, neither team made a field goal for the remainder of the half until Travis McKie drilled a three just before the buzzer to pull the Demon Deacons within 26-23 at the break.
A furious back-and-forth start to the second half saw Syracuse's lead grow to 40-32 just over six minutes thanks to six points by Grant and five from Ennis.
After a corner three by Coron Williams, Madison Jones stole the inbounds pass and laid it in to bring the Demon Deacons within one possession at 40-37. The hosts wouldn't get any closer as Ennis took over, scoring eight of the Orange's next 11 points to extend the margin to 51-43 with 6:42 to go in the contest.
Over the next five minutes the teams exchanged points with SU still holding onto a 56-47 lead when redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney began to heat up. Cooney tallied the Orange's next eight points in a span of 44 seconds to push the advantage to 64-52 with one minute left. Ennis tacked on two free throws 12 seconds later to give Syracuse its largest lead of the night at 66-52 and put the game out of reach.
Devin Thomas and McKie each scored 12 points to pace the Demon Deacons. McKie tied for a team-high six rebounds and Thomas chipped in with five boards and three assists.