SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — All of a sudden, Syracuse is showing signs of emerging from its struggles this season.
Andrew White scored 24 points, John Gillon had 21 points and matched his career high with 11 assists, and Syracuse beat No. 6 Florida State 82-72 on Saturday.
Syracuse (13-9, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its second straight close game and gained its first victory over a ranked team.
"This game shows we have the ability," White said. "We just have to show we can do it night in and night out."
— Syracuse Athletics (@Cuse) January 28, 2017
After consecutive losses to North Carolina and Notre Dame, Syracuse was desperate for a signature victory and got it against Florida State, compliments of a dominant first half and a late-game resolve keyed by Gillon, at 6 foot the smallest player on the court.
"This was huge," said Gillon, a fifth-year transfer in his lone season at Syracuse. "This was the biggest game of my life. If I'm not going to be a leader, we're not going to be successful. I'm taking it upon myself to be the best leader I can be."
— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) January 28, 2017
After Dwayne Bacon's third 3-pointer cut Syracuse's lead to 72-70 with 1:48 left, the speedy Gillon got more aggressive, repeatedly driving the lane. He hit a layup to extend the lead to four and then made eight straight free throws in the final minute to help the Orange hold on.
"That little guy is fast. He was moving everybody," Bacon said.
Bacon and Jonathan Isaac each had 19 points for Florida State, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes finished with 16.
A week ago, Florida State (18-4, 6-3) wrapped up a six-game stretch of ranked opponents with five wins and a tie for first place in the ACC standings with North Carolina at 6-1. A 78-56 loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night was an eye opener, as was Syracuse's dominant first half.
Syracuse had a 16-4 run on its way to a 44-26 lead at the break. The Orange shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, compared to 31 percent for the Seminoles.
Rathan-Mayes' 3 got Florida State within four with 4:08 left in the game, but Syracuse held on from there.
"At the end we had a chance to win, but I thought we made some poor decisions in the last two or three minutes," Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. "But sometimes you have to give your opponent credit. We got it to two four or five times but couldn't get over the hump."
Florida State has won 14 of its last 17 games, but its second straight loss will hurt the Seminoles in the AP poll. It's their first losing streak of the season.
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 28, 2017
Syracuse's Tyler Lydon had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high six blocks. He also wowed the crowd with a stunning slam.
With Syracuse clinging to a narrow lead with just over 8 minutes left, White's 3-point attempt from the corner hit the rim, but Lydon slammed it home as the Carrier Dome crowd erupted.
Florida State: Bacon has scored 10 or more points in an ACC-best 30 straight games. ... FSU has won only one road game, 60-58 over Virginia on Dec. 31.
Syracuse: Since starting the season with four wins, the Orange's longest winning streak is two games. ... The Orange forced 15 turnovers and outscored FSU 15-11 in second-chance points. ... Syracuse outrebounded Florida State 42-39 and trailed only 17-16 on the offensive glass.
Florida State travels to play Miami on Wednesday night.
Syracuse travels to play North Carolina State on Wednesday night.
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