Gbinije has 17 to lead Syracuse over Boston College 69-61
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Syracuse entered Tuesday night's home game against Boston College with payback on its mind.
Michael Gbinije had 17 points as every Syracuse starter scored in double figures, and the Orange held off Boston College 69-61.
The Eagles ended the Orange's magical 25-0 start last year with a 62-59 upset in overtime at the Carrier Dome, and for the first five minutes on Tuesday night it looked like BC was ready for an encore performance as the Eagles raced to a 12-4 lead.
But the Orange defense clamped down and SU took control, holding off a late BC rally.
''It was our first loss last year, how can you forget it?'' said Trevor Cooney, who rebounded from a subpar performance against Clemson last Saturday with a 15-point effort. ''Just the way that we lost it - we had the game and it fell apart. I definitely had a chip on my shoulder.''
The Eagles, aided by shaky Syracuse free throw shooting in the closing moments, closed to within 66-60 with less than a minute to go on a slam by Dimitri Batten, but foul shots by Cooney and freshman Kaleb Joseph sealed the win.
''I don't know what happened,'' BC coach Jim Christian said. ''We just stopped competing at both ends of the floor. We gave up some transition baskets. We had ridiculous turnovers. You have to be fundamentally sound when you play against them because they're so good at capitalizing on turnovers.''
Joseph had 13 points and seven assists with one turnover, Rakeem Christmas had 12 points and seven rebounds before fouling out late, and Tyler Roberson chipped in with 10 points and three assists for Syracuse (14-5, 5-1 ACC).
Aaron Brown led the Eagles (8-9, 0-5) with 21 points. Batten had 17, all but three in the second half, and BC's leading scorer, Olivier Hanlan, finished with 13.
Syracuse, which shot 37 percent in Saturday's loss at Clemson, missed its first six shots and didn't score its first field goal until Christmas's hook in the lane nearly five minutes in.
Gbinije and Christmas scored seven points each to key a 14-0 Syracuse run. The Eagles went more than nine minutes between field goals, missing eight consecutive shots in that span as Syracuse ended the half on a 31-5 run to gain 35-17 lead.
The Eagles regrouped and opened the second half on an 11-2 spurt to close within 37-28, but Syracuse managed to hold on after Christmas, the Orange's leading scorer, picked up his fourth foul and sat on the bench for over 10 minutes.
Joseph set up consecutive 3-pointers by Cooney and Gbinije to boost the lead to 48-33 with 12:44 to play and when Christmas returned at 5:57, the Orange held a 10-point lead, one more than when he departed.
''Our defense really picked it up, which was good,'' Cooney said. ''They couldn't score. They couldn't do what they wanted to do. When you take a team out of what they want to do, it really gets to them and it helped us.''
The Eagles got one last reprieve when Christmas fouled out with just under two minutes left, but they were unable to overcome the deficit despite some poor free throw shooting by the Orange. Syracuse converted just 6 of 14 from the line in the closing minutes.
The Eagles opened the second half on an 11-2 run to close within 37-28 on two foul shots by Brown with 16:12 to go on Christmas's fourth personal foul. The Eagles run was triggered by Batten, who scored eight points, including two 3-pointers in the span.
The Orange extended its lead to 12 points during the second half before BC rallied late.
Boston College: The Eagles have lost five of seven. ... Olivier Hanlan shot just 5 of 14 and scored all of his points in the second half. ... Dimitri Batten scored 14 of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes. ... Aaron Brown finished 4 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Syracuse: The Orange leads the series 42-24. Backup center Chinonso Obokoh played 16 minutes, the longest stint of his young career. ... The Orange outscored BC 30-12 in the paint.
Boston College is at Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Syracuse hosts Miami on Saturday.