Noles Rally But Fall Short At Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- A furious second-half rally by the Florida State men's basketball team gave Syracuse a scare, but it wasn't enough to erase an 18-point, halftime deficit.

Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac each had 19 points and Xavier Rathan-Mayes 16 as the No. 6 Seminoles fell, 82-72, to the Orange on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. FSU has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Syracuse (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its second straight close game and gained its first victory over a ranked team.

A week ago, Florida State (18-4, 6-3 ACC) wrapped up a six-game stretch of consecutive games against ranked teams, and the Seminoles won five of those games to vault into a tie for first place in the ACC standings with North Carolina at 6-1. A 78-56 loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night was an eye-opener, as was Syracuse's dominant first half.

The Orange finished off the victory from the free-throw line, with John Gillon hitting 10 in the final 3 minutes as he became a force with his aggressive drives through the lane.

Florida State trailed by 18 at the break, but Isaac had nine points to start the second half and Bacon and Rathan-Mayes each hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to 49-41 less than four minutes into the second period. The Seminoles hit five of their first six 3-pointers, one by Rathan-Mayes narrowing the Syracuse lead to 54-51 with 12:24 left.

The Orange extended its lead to 69-62 at 5:19 on White's 3 off a court-long pass from Roberson. Rathan-Mayes' fourth 3 of the game cut the lead back to four with 4:08 left.

But the Seminoles were never able to take a lead despite a combined 26 points from Isaac and Bacon in the period.

After the Orange gained an early seven-point lead with some sparkling defense, the Seminoles rallied with a seven-point surge. The Orange then took control, just as it had against Pittsburgh three weeks ago in the opening period in an 11-point win.

Syracuse had a 16-4 run to gain a double-digit lead late in the first half. Lydon had five points and Roberson four to key a surge that gave Syracuse a 33-20 lead. But it was the defense that sparkled. Syracuse forced 11 turnovers, blocked eight shots, and out-rebounded the taller Seminoles 25-20 and nearly matched them on the offensive glass, where FSU is accustomed to dominating.

Roberson's layup in the final minute gave the Orange a 44-26 halftime lead, but the Seminoles weren't about to go away quietly.

Tyler Lydon had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six blocks for Syracuse and Roberson had 10 points and seven rebounds.

The last time teams played was in last year's regular-season finale in what was widely regarded as a must-win game for Syracuse to make the NCAA Tournament. The Orange lost 78-73 on the road but made the tournament and went all the way to the national semifinals.



 
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