Despite big men foul trouble, #1 Syracuse outslugs Clemson 57-44

The #1 ranked Syracuse Orange (23-0, 10-0 ACC) beat the Clemson Tigers (15-7, 6-4 ACC) 57 to 44 in the Carrier Dome on Sunday night.

On the second possession of the game, sophomore Jerami Grant did not make an explosive play, but rather an improbable one. On a fast break, Grant caught the ball and spun around, throwing the ball at the hoop with his back to the basket. A perfect bank shot he tied the game at two.

A Tyler Ennis tip-in would make the score 10-4 SU early on, but Clemson, despite shooting just 27 percent stayed in it. A Rod Hall four-point play crept the Tigers back in it. Leading scorer K.J. McDaniels followed with a three-point basket a few minutes later, cutting the lead to one.

After going back and forth for a few minutes, two McDaniels free throws tied the game at 22. After a record-tying nine three pointers against Notre Dame, Trevor Cooney hit his first three with 3:46 to play, breaking the tie and starting a 9-0 SU run to close the half. The Orange led 31-22 going into the locker room.

During the first half, SU senior center Baye Keita left the game with a leg injury, he would not return, leaving the Orange with just Rakeem Christmas to man the middle of the zone.

A K.J. McDaniels three pointer cut the SU lead to six to begin the second half. C.J. Fair started to heat up after that, making two jumpers to extend the lead once again. But, Rakeem Christmas would pick up his fourth foul with about 13:00 minutes to play, leaving the Orange without an experienced center.

With Grant in the middle of the zone, Jaron Blossomgame made a thunderous dunk to cut the lead to seven, followed by a Josh Smith jumper which cut the SU lead to five at 42-37.

Another SU run gave the Orange a double-digit lead once again with less than 7:00 to play.

Rakeem Christmas reentered the game with 5:00 to play, and immediately made an impact, scoring a basket underneath to give the Orange a 52-42 lead with less than four minutes to play. A few minutes later, Trevor Cooney hit a dagger three-pointer from the top of the key, and followed that with an offensive rebound on the next possession, assuring another SU victory.

C.J. Fair led the Orange with 19 points and seven rebounds. Jerami Grant had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Trevor Cooney also notched double figures with 11 points. Tyler Ennis had six points and five assists.

In the losing effort, McDaniels had 19 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, the Tigers shooting just 34.1 percent from the field.

The Orange travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers at Peterson Events Center on Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.