The #1 Syracuse Orange (25-0, 12-0 ACC) beat the NC State Wolfpack (16-9, 6-6 ACC) 56-55 on Saturday night in another thrilling victory.
The game had it's tipoff moved from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. after NC State had travel issues on Friday night.
The first few minutes of the game were much like the entire game, back and forth action. With Baye Keita still sidelined with a knee injury, SU's Rakeem Christmas asserted himself early with two dunks and a lefty jumper, scoring six early points.
But, N.C. State's and the ACC's leading scorer T.J. Warren also made his presence felt with six points as well, with the teams going back and forth throughout the first half with multiple ties and lead changes.
A quick four-point run featuring two Warren baskets gave the Wolfpack a four-point lead, forcing the Orange to take a timeout. Jim Boeheim's coaching came in handy after that, immediately resulting in a C.J. Fair basket and a Trevor Cooney patented steal/fast-break dunk to tie the game at 26.
After some misses on both sides, the two squads would go into the half tied at that same score 26-26.
NC State came out of the locker room with a purpose in the second half, and once again it was Warren with six quick points out of the locker room, giving the Wolfpack a four point lead at 32-28.
The Orange would keep crawling back, a Jerami Grant and-one and a Rakeem Christmas finish in the lane tied the game back up once again 34-34 with 11:00 to play.
After NC State took another lead, Jerami Grant got a huge offensive rebound and putback, giving SU the 40-39 lead with 9:00 to play. Grant would clinch his 6th double-double with a jumper to give the Orange a 42-41 lead. The Wolfpack answered once again, as Ralston Turner made a three-pointer to retake a 44-42 lead.
Tyler Ennis would notch a three-point play to briefly retake a lead, but NC State scored five points in a row, punctuated by another Turner three, giving NC State the 50-45 lead.
Christmas, having a career night, ignited another SU run, first getting fouled by Warren and making both free throws. A Tyler Ennis steal and goaltended layup cut the deficit to one, then it was Christmas getting fouled once again, and once again making both free throws to give the Orange the 51-50 lead.
With a 53-52 lead and 1:00 to play, Ennis fouled Tuner...who was attempting a three-pointer. Turner made all three, giving NC State the 55-53 lead, cueing a Jim Boeheim timeout.
On SU's offensive possession, a C.J. Fair offensive rebound and attempt at a putback put him at the line. But, he'd make just one of the two free throws, leaving the Orange still trailing 55-54 with .30 seconds to play.
The Orange defense stepped up, as Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant forced Desmond Lee to dribble the ball off his leg and out of bounds, giving SU the ball with 20 seconds remaining.
Ennis, last game's hero vs. Pittsburgh, drove the ball down the middle of the lane, but committed an offensive foul. After SU committed a foul on a long inbounds pass, NC State took the ball out of bounds once again. This time, Rakeem Christmas stepped in front of the pass, getting the steal, outletting it to Tyler Ennis. Ennis found C.J. Fair streaking down the court, who finished with the left hand and was awarded a goaltending, giving the Orange the 56-55 lead with six seconds left.
NC State's prayer was off the mark, giving the Orange it's second straight thrilling victory.
Christmas finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks. Grant had 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Fair, despite going 5-16, finished with 11. Warren finished with 23 points in the losing effort.
The Orange is back in action on Wednesday, hosting Boston College in the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m.