ACC Roundup: No. 2 Syracuse holds off No. 22 Pitt 59-54

Jan. 18, 2014 @ 08:53 PM

Put this in the scouting report on Syracuse's Tyler Ennis: He can score, too.

Ennis, the freshman point guard who would rather pass than shoot, scored 16 points, including two driving layups and two free throws in the final 2 minutes, and the second-ranked Orange rallied past No. 22 Pittsburgh 59-54 on Saturday in a battle for first place in the ACC between the two former Big East rivals.

Syracuse (18-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell behind 52-49 with 4:31 to go on two free throws by Lamar Patterson, who had rallied the Panthers from a 10-point deficit.

Ennis hit a scooping layup to give Syracuse a 53-52 lead with 1:47 left and the Orange held it to the end.

"I pretty much had to make a play," said Ennis, who had three assists with one turnover. "I think they broke down defensively. They don't usually do that too often. I didn't even get to the basket all the way the whole game. Luckily, I did at the end."

Twice.

In a seesaw game that was tight all the way, Ennis took advantage again of his driving ability after Patterson and Cameron Wright missed 3-pointers on the same possession with just over a minute to go. Encouraged by coach Jim Boeheim to take more shots, Ennis hit a lefty layup with 30.6 seconds to go as the crowd of 30,046 shook the Carrier Dome with deafening roars.

"He made some of the best plays that I've seen in a long time," Boeheim said. "You don't get to the basket against Pittsburgh for two layups. He won the game for us down the stretch. We opened it up and we like to give him the opportunity in those situations. We were trying to give him an opportunity so he could get to the basket, and he has a knack for doing it that's just about as good as anybody I've ever seen."

Syracuse entered the game 2-0 against former Big East rivals, with victories over St. John's and Villanova. The Orange made it three straight and remained one of only three unbeatens in Division I.

"That's what it comes down to — finishing and stopping them," said Patterson, who missed what would have been a game-tying 3 with 5 seconds left. "We win the game if we do."

In four of the past five seasons, Syracuse has started with at least 13 consecutive wins, and twice in the last four years Pitt (16-2, 4-1) had stopped those streaks.

McDaniels, Clemson gets by Wake Forest 61-53

CLEMSON, S.C.  — Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels and his teammates took it a bit personally when the Tigers were picked to finish next-to-last in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

After Saturday's 61-53 win over Wake Forest, Clemson (13-4, 4-1 ACC) is tied for second in the league and is ready for another week of confounding their critics.

"We came back from ACC media day and we had the paper in our hand. We saw we were 14th. I laughed. To prove those people wrong is a good feeling," McDaniels said,

McDaniels scored 15 points and had a career-best 12 rebounds as the Tigers at 4-1 are off to their best start in the ACC since winning their first five league games in 1997_the last time Clemson went to the Sweet 16.

This week had all the potential for a letdown after Clemson beat Duke by 13. But the Tigers beat Virginia Tech and Wake Forest through their nation-leading defense. The Demon Deacons (12-6, 2-3) shot just 36.2 percent (21 of 58) on Saturday, matching Clemson's field goal defense for the season exactly. Wake Forest's 53 points almost matched the Division I leading 53.6 points a game Clemson came in allowing.

Harris' 18 lead Virginia past Florida State, 78-66

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.  — Joe Harris and Virginia didn't let a disappointment at Duke knock them off their rhythm.

Harris scored 18 points, Malcolm Brogdon scored 16 and the Cavaliers used an early 22-5 run to take command on their way to a 78-66 victory against Florida State on Saturday, claiming a sweep of its season series against the Seminoles.

"I think we have a bunch of guys on our team that are starting to buy in and buy into their roles," Brogdon said after a game in which he also had six assists, four steals and four rebounds in 33 minutes. "We believe in coach (Tony) Bennett and he believes in us. He allows his players a lot of freedom and allows us to play up to our abilities."

The Cavaliers (13-5, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won 62-50 at Florida State on Jan. 4, led 45-26 at halftime after closing with an 11-3 run. The sweep is the first for the Cavaliers against the Seminoles since the 2000-01 season.

Miami shuts down Georgia Tech 56-42

ATLANTA  — Freshman point guard Manu Lecomte seems to be maturing at just the right time for Miami.

"You need a guy like that to handle the ball, who won't make mistakes and runs the team," teammate Rion Brown said. "He's getting better and better each game."

Lecomte scored a career-high 16 points, Donnavan Kirk added 14 points and Miami used its tight zone defense to beat Georgia Tech 56-42 on Saturday.

The Hurricanes (10-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) showed why they rank ninth in the nation in average points allowed, causing Georgia Tech to miss 27 of its first 35 shots from the field.

Miami gave the Yellow Jackets hardly any room to dribble inside the perimeter. Those few times that Georgia Tech managed to get through, the Hurricanes often stripped the ball away or grabbed a defensive rebound.

Trae Golden, despite missing six of seven 3-point attempts, finished with 12 points for the Yellow Jackets (10-8, 1-4), who used an eight-man rotation following injuries or sickness suffered by Robert Carter Jr., Jason Morris and Solomon Poole.