SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Markell Johnson’s 3-pointer with 33 seconds to go broke a 70-70 tie and North Carolina State went on to defeat Syracuse 74-70 Wednesday.
The game was critical for both teams who reside squarely on the NCAA bubble.
Allerik Freeman led the Wolfpack (17-9, 7-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 17 points. Johnson had 16 and Sam Hunt, who hit four big 3s in the second half, added 14. The Wolfpack, who broke a two-game losing streak, had seven 3s in the final 20 minutes.
Syracuse (17-9, 6-7) was led by Oshae Brissett, who had a game-high 25 points, including 18 in the second half. Tyus Battle had 17 on just 5-of-14 shooting, including 0-of-4 from 3, and Frank Howard had 16.
NC State took a 41-39 lead on a jumper by Freeman with 16:52 to go, but Syracuse went on an 8-0 run to take a 47-41 lead with 13:29 remaining. The Wolfpack responded with five straight and then closed to 49-48 on a short jumper by Torin Dorn. Syracuse scored the next five to extend to a 54-48 lead but the Wolfpack answered again, scoring eight straight, including four points by Dorn, to take a 56-54 lead on a layup and foul shot by Freeman with 8:23 to go.
Syracuse tied the game at 56 on a floater by Howard with 7:23 to go but 3-pointers by Hunt and Freeman gave the Wolfpack a 62-58 margin with 6:09 remaining. NC State extended its margin to 70-62 on a Freeman layup and two 3-pointers by Hunt. The Orange scored the next eight to tie the game at 70 on two 3s by Brissett and a Battle reverse layup. Brissett’s 3 tied the game with 1:02 to go.
The first half was a foul-plagued, turnover-filled affair. The teams combined for 20 fouls and 20 turnovers, with Syracuse scoring 16 points off Wolfpack miscues. The Orange had a 26-20 lead with just over seven minutes to go when NC State went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:46 to take a 30-26 lead with just under four minutes to go. Markell Johnson had six points during that span. Freeman hit a layup with seconds to go in the half, giving the Wolfpack a 35-32 lead.
Johnson led NC State with 11 first-half points. Frank Howard led the Orange with nine points and four assists.
With a matchup against bottom-feeder Wake Forest on Saturday, North Carolina State can build on its resume.
Syracuse’s loss puts the Orange squarely behind the eight-ball with consecutive games against Miami and North Carolina.
North Carolina State visits Wake Forest Saturday.
Syracuse hits the road for a Saturday afternoon matchup against Miami.
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