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Syracuse Defeats Wake Forest 73-64 for First-Ever ACC Tournament Win

(c); Michael J. Okoniewski

The Syracuse Men's basketball team season is not done yet. Syracuse (20-12) skated by Wake Forest (11-20), 74-64, en route to its first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament victory. SU freshman forward Marek Dolezaj scored a career-high 20 points in the win. 

Syracuse sophomore guard Tyus Battle added in 18, while Paschal Chukwu chipped in 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds as all five Orange starters scored in double figures. 

The Demon Deacons could not figure out the famous 2-3 zone for the large part first half. Syracuse forced Wake into committing six turnovers and could not score a basket for nearly five minutes. Syracuse used an 11-0 run, led by Battle with seven points, to give the Orange a 20-4 advantage within the first 10 minutes of the competition.

"We did a good job defensively and made them take tough shots," Battle said in the postgame press conference. 

Wake Forest eventually found its footing, using a 9-0 run to close the gap to 26-22 with less than five minutes to play in the first half. The Demon Deacons were largely lead by guard Bryant Crawford. The junior finished his night with 22 points. 

Syracuse headed into the locker room with the 30-24 advantage. With the Orange lead growing thin, and the roster even thinner, Jim Boeheim did not make a substitution in the second half until subbing out his five with less than 40 seconds to go.

Boeheim did not have to worry, as Marek Dolezaj stepped up for Syracuse. The freshman scored a season-high 20 points, notched four rebounds and had two blocks. 

Syracuse never trailed in the second half, and held Wake Forest to 6-29 from beyond the arc. Dolezaj scored the Orange's first five points of the second half, and a three-ball by Frank Howard sparked an 11-0 run that gave the Orange its largest lead, 56-37, with under nine minutes left. 

Wake Forest ended up cutting the defecit to just six on two free throws by guard Brandon Childress with just under a minute and a half left.

But, Dolezaj tossed an alley-oop to Paschal Chukwu to his second consecutive slam. He followed that up with a block on the other end that led to freshman forward Oshae Brissett's two foul shots, increasing the lead to 10 points with just over a minute remaining.

The Orange shot just under 55% from the floor, despite going 4 for 17 from beyond the arc. 

Syracuse takes on North Carolina tomorrow night in the second round of the ACC Tournament. The Orange lost 78-74 in the Carrier Dome to then-No. 10 Tar Heels three weeks ago. All of the action is on and on 88.3 FM. Countdown to Tipoff begins at 9, with the game at 9:30. 

Check out all of the highlights from SU's first ACC Tournament win here