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Wichita State Holds Back Syracuse Surge

December 3, 2006

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ Kyle Wilson scored 17 points, Sean Ogirri added 16, and No. 17 Wichita State survived a big Syracuse rally, holding off the 15th-ranked Orange 64-61 on Saturday night.

Wichita State (6-0) had already posted road victories over two teams that made last April’s Final Four _ 72-66 over George Mason and 57-53 over then-No.6 LSU _ and made the Orange (7-1) their latest victim.

It wasn’t easy. After an amazing 27-1 run in the first half staked Wichita State to a 35-12 lead, Syracuse seemed finished.

Syracuse trailed 39-25 at halftime and was unable to close the gap early in the second period. After freshman Paul Harris hit a driving layup to get the Orange to 52-38 with 13 minutes left, Phillip Thomasson’s follow tip made the deficit 16.

Frustration began to really set in less than a minute later when 6-foot-9 Terrence Roberts and 6-11 Darryl Watkins combined to miss four shots from under the basket.

But after Ogirri hit a 3-pointer to give Wichita State a 59-40 lead with 9:24 left, the Orange stormed back, holding the Shockers to only one field goal the rest of the game _ by Wilson on a goaltending call against Roberts with 6:18 left.

A three-point play by Harris and two free throws by Roberts pulled Syracuse to 61-59 with 2:50 left and Watkins’ follow after three misses under the basket tied it at 61.

Ryan Martin and Wilson hit free throws in the final 84 seconds and Nichols missed what would have been a go-ahead layup with 21.5 seconds left to end Syracuse’s chances.

Roberts had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse. Harris had 14 points, Watkins had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Wright finished with 10 points.

Nichols, who had scored at least 20 points in the previous three games, finished with only six on 2-of-14 shooting, while Eric Devendorf had his second straight subpar outing, finishing with a season-low six points.

The teams played to a standstill in the first 5 minutes of the game before the Shockers went on their stunning run. After Wright’s fast-break layup at 16:48, Syracuse did not score another basket until Nichols drained a 3 from right wing at 5:34.

Wichita State had 13 assists on its first 14 baskets and used a hot shooting touch from outside, hitting 7-of-17 3-pointers against the frazzled Orange’s 2-3 zone defense.

Wilson and Ogirri each hit a pair of 3-pointers and Karon Bradley had another to key the surge. Ogirri also scored off the glass, Bradley fed Gal Mekel for a layup, both off fast breaks, and Philip Thomasson, who finished 11 points and eight rebounds, added another basket off an inbounds pass.

The Shockers took off after Bradley air-balled a 3 from the top of the key, scoring 14 points in just over 3 minutes while Syracuse was mishandling the ball almost every time up the court.

The Orange, which shot just 31 percent in the first half and committed nine turnovers, finally got its offense in gear and went on an 11-0 run. Roberts slammed down a two-hand dunk off a steal by Wright and Nichols hit another 3 to key the surge as Syracuse pulled within 39-25 at halftime.

Syracuse trailed by double digits for all of the second half before mounting its final charge.

Harris and fellow freshman Mike Jones started the rally with thundering one-hand dunks, Wright drained a 3 from left wing and Roberts followed with another dunk to move the Orange to 61-53 with 4:04 left.

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