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MBB : Syracuse tested by tough atmosphere on the road against NC State

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ RALEIGH, N.C. — As the shots continued to clank off the rim to start the second half, Syracuse fell back into the same rut it struggled with to start the game. And the Orange’s miscues were magnified by a hostile environment.James Southerland missed an open 3. North Carolina State forward C.J. Williams finished with a bucket in the paint on the other end. SU forward Kris Joseph got another good look, but his shot went awry as well. NC State pushed the ball in transition and this time, C.J. Leslie closed for two points, causing an Orange timeout.‘The fans got into it,’ Joseph said. ‘I thought we deflated the fans in the first half, and they came back when they made their little run. The fans were back in it and we just had to calm down.’In the Orange’s first true road game of the season, every miss SU made was loudly cheered by the RBC Center crowd. Syracuse missed a couple open looks to begin the second half. The Orange followed those up with a few unforced turnovers, and less than five minutes into the second half, SU’s 14-point halftime lead was erased and the game was tied. But in its first test in a hostile environment, the No. 1 Orange (11-0) battled back against the raucous fans to retake the momentum in an 88-72 victory over the Wolfpack (6-4) on Saturday.After the game, Syracuse players said they anticipated the Wolfpack’s runs. Yet they didn’t stop them, playing a sluggish few minutes at the start of each half as NC State played with more intensity.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘When we were up, I think it was 13, 14 at halftime, but we knew they were going to come back,’ SU guard Dion Waiters said. ‘It’s never over in college basketball, especially in their house.’The NC State students were at the game in force despite it being the end of the semester. A couple came with signs taunting SU in the wake of the sex abuse allegations against former associate head coach Bernie Fine. But they all wanted to see the Orange lose in its first game as No. 1.Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim stuck mainly with players who had experienced a tough road environment before. Freshmen Rakeem Christmas and Michael Carter-Williams played two minutes apiece.Still, the Orange let NC State get out ahead early in the first half. Lorenzo Brown went over-the-top on a backdoor lob to Leslie, an alley-oop that put the Wolfpack up 7-2 and nearly blew the roof off the arena. Moments later, Brown found Williams on the right wing for a 3 that gave NC State a 12-4 lead.Williams pointed at Brown as they ran back down the court and to the Wolfpack bench for his nice dish after a timeout.‘I loved it,’ Williams said of the game’s atmosphere. ‘I think our fans really believe in us … We were able to feed off of them early and they stayed behind us the entire game.’Boeheim said he expects Syracuse to be a good road team this season. Good teams play well on the road, he said, and bad teams don’t. It’s as simple as that.But after a mini-pep rally before the game, and coming out of the halftime locker rooms, Syracuse fell flat. The Wolfpack closed a 47-33 halftime deficit with a 17-3 run early in the second half.With SU up 50-48, Waiters drove toward the hoop, attracting multiple defenders. He leapt up toward the rim and tried to push a pass back out to forward C.J. Fair for an open shot.But they didn’t communicate. Waiters errant pass bounced out of bounds to the Orange bench as he stood, hands on his head. The No. 1 team was scuffling and the fans didn’t let them forget it, even if the Orange ended up surviving.‘I think we got rattled just a little in the beginning (of the second half) because we missed like two or three shots that we would have hit in the first half and then we had two dumb turnovers on my behalf,’ Waiters said. ‘So just things like that have to clean up, have to get it back together and get us going again.’mcooperj@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Published on December 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjrlast_img read more