Clearly coming in the stronger team, Syracuse needed to make sure it got this one. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened, as the Orange handled Wake Forest in blowout fashion, 79-54.
SU really did dominate throughout, with the only exception being a quick little Wake Forest run to begin the second half. The Demon Deacons cut the Orange lead to five, but it’s funny – the run ended abruptly, and when it did, Wake Forest really struggled to score.
It took almost 14 minutes for the Demon Deacons to hit their next field goal – a result of having no answer for SU’s zone. On the other hand, however, Syracuse did not experience similar issues.
The Orange shot an impressive 54 percent from the field, but struggled beyond that arc, but that’s okay – Syracuse didn’t need to hit its threes today to win, shooting a whopping 71 percent inside the three-point line this afternoon.
Tyus Battle pounded it inside, going 8-of-10 within the arc. Elijah Hughes also dominated, going 7-of-8 from two-point range himself. Putting some of the lopsidedness of this game in perspective, while those two Syracuse scorers had wildly efficient outings, not one player on Wake Forest made even half his field goals. Furthermore, Syracuse as a team held a 44-10 advantage in the paint over the Demon Deacons… that’s pretty much just mean.
Outside of the mini Wake run in the beginning of the second half, the Orange truly never had to fear in this one. SU went on a 25-4 tear through the middle of the second half (yes, you read that correctly) before guys like Robert Braswell, Adrian Autry, Ray Featherston, and Antoni Balandi all checked into the game.
At the of the day, fans can digest the victory one of two ways. The first is, after playing up to par with two of the nation’s best teams (and beating Louisville just before), is the Orange breaking out and playing its best basketball at the right time? The second, more skeptical thought, however, is Syracuse struggled from three (21 percent), and its success inside today can be easily overlooked because of the underwhelming play of a stumbling Wake Forest team.
All told, you can only beat what you have in front of you, which is exactly what the Orange handily did today. Sure, Wake Forest is not quite what Syracuse will see in the postseason, but there’s something to be said for what those players in the Orange locker room should to be telling themselves right now. As Syracuse gears up for its final two games – one of them vs. No. 2 Virginia – confidence should most certainly be high after these last four, especially after this 25-point win over Wake Forest.
SU’s matchup against Virginia will be this Monday at 7:00.