- Tyus Battle scored 34 points, Oshae Brissett added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Syracuse held off Wake Forest 78-70 on Sunday.
Syracuse (17-8, 6-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) was coming off a 78-73 victory at Louisville on Monday night and needed to protect home court to improve its resume for the postseason.
Wake Forest (9-16, 2-11 ACC) was coming off an 87-81 road loss to No. 25 Miami on Wednesday as a late rally fell short. The Demon Deacons have won only twice since Dec. 18, but one of those victories came against Syracuse. Not on this day as the Demon Deacons fell to 0-7 on the road in conference play.
During Wake Forest's seven-game skid in January, four of the losses were by double-digit margins. The Demon Deacons also suffered a nine-point setback at North Carolina State when the Wolfpack surged in the final minutes with an 11-0 run. They made it close in this one but couldn't pull out the victory.
Frank Howard had 12 points and nine assists with one turnover and Paschal Chukwu had seven points and 11 rebounds for the Orange.
Bryant Crawford led Wake Forest with 24 points, Doral Moore had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Mitchell Wilbekin had 13 points, all in the second half.
After a miserable first half shooting from behind the arc, the Demon Deacons regrouped and torched the Orange for six 3-pointers in a span of just over 3 minutes to get back in a game it had trailed by 14 near the midpoint of the second period.
Wilbekin had four of the 3s and was fouled on the last one. His foul shot completed a four-point play and narrowed the Orange lead to 61-55 with 7:35 left.
A dunk by Bourama Sidibe boosted the Syracuse lead back to 10 with 6:44 left, but a baseline runner by Keyshawn Woods, a slam dunk by Moore, and a layup by Crawford narrowed the gap to 65-63 with 4:19 to go.
Two free throws by Battle gave Syracuse a five-point lead with 3:15 left, but the Orange missed five straight free throws to give Wake Forest one more chance. Battle ended that, scoring four straight points in the final 27 seconds.
Syracuse hit 4 of 8 from behind the arc in the opening half. Consecutive 3s by Howard and Battle broke open a tight game and Brissett's 3 with 74 seconds left gave the Orange a 31-18 lead, their biggest of the period. Wake Forest shot just 28 percent (7 of 25) as Crawford and Moore combined to shoot 6 for 11 and score 18 of the team's 21 points in the period. The rest of the lineup was 1 for 14.
Wake Forest entered the game averaging a solid 38.5 percent on 3-pointers. Against the Orange, who ranked fourth in Division I in field-goal percentage defense (38.4 percent), the Demon Deacons experienced an ice-cold first half. Despite some open looks, they missed their first nine tries from long range, an uncustomary performance for a team that has five players with at least 23 3-pointers. At one point in the period, they missed seven straight shots with one turnover and fell behind 31-18 until Crawford hit a 3 at the buzzer. The Deacons also were averaging 24.7 bench points per game and had zero in the first half as they were held to a season low for the opening period. They finished with 25 bench points.
WAKE FOREST: Despite its record this season, Wake Forest has been tied or led in the second half in 18 of 24 games. The Demon Deacons scored the first basket of this game and never led again. But they hit 9 of 13 from behind the arc in the second half (69.2 percent), and that bodes well for the stretch run of the season.
SYRACUSE: The Orange still have games against four ranked teams - Miami, North Carolina, Duke and Clemson - to improve their resume for a chance at a berth in the postseason. Syracuse entered Sunday's game with an RPI of 38.
Wake Forest: Hosts Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
Syracuse: Hosts North Carolina State on Wednesday night.