The 8th ranked Syracuse Orange (5-0) outlasted a tough Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-1) team in the first round of the Maui Invitational on Monday night, winning 75-67.
Two Trevor Cooney three point baskets propelled the Orange to an early 12-2 lead. But, the Gophers stormed back by going on a 15-2 run of their own. Andre Hollins made a jumper to cap off the run, giving Minnesota a 17-14 lead with less than 11:00 minutes to play in the half.
Play in the first half went back and forth from there, with the Orange opening up a 33-27 lead, only to have that lead evaporate to three, as SU held a 39-36 haltime lead.
The second half started like the first for the Orange, as Trevor Cooney hit a three pointer right out of the gate to give the Orange a 42-36 lead. CJ Fair then scored the next six SU points, with a Rakeem Christmas slam giving the Orange a 50-38 lead going into the first TV timeout.
Once again, Minnesota rallied, two Malik Smith threes cut the lead to four with less than 12:00 minutes to play. The Orange would stave off that rally, but with less than 3:00 minutes left, Andre Hollins made two free throws for the Gophers, cutting the lead to two at 67-65 SU.
A big CJ Fair jumper made the lead four points once again, a lead the Gophers could not overcome, with the Orange winning 75-67.
Fair finished with a double-double 16 points and 10 rebounds. Cooney had 15 points, going 5-11 from three point range. SU point guard Tyler Ennis went 10-11 from the free throw line, stuffing the box score with four rebounds, five assists and five steals.
The Orange plays California in the semifinals tomorrow in Maui at 7:00 p.m.