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Jan 26, 2024 4:42 pm

Syracuse in search of increased toughness vs. NC State

Syracuse and North Carolina State find themselves a logjam near the center of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.

Both teams are hungry for a win, with the intention to display increased toughness, when Syracuse welcomes North Carolina State on Saturday evening.

The host Orange (13-6, 4-4 ACC) stumbled down the stretch Tuesday in an 85-69 defeat to Florida State, with the Seminoles handing Syracuse its first home loss of the season. The Orange were 9-0 at home but were unable to overcome 1-of-14 shooting from 3-point range, not to mention 16 turnovers.

“They were physical down in the paint and we didn’t match their physicality, especially in the second half,” Syracuse’s Justin Taylor said. “We just weren’t as tough as them.”

The Orange hope to increase their intensity against the Wolfpack, who are looking to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time this season. NC State (13-6, 5-3) fell at home to Virginia Tech 84-78 last Saturday before succumbing to Virginia in overtime 59-53 on Wednesday.

“I didn’t think we brought enough toughness in the first half,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “The result of that is 54-32 rebounding. I thought they really did beat us to 50/50 balls.”

Virginia had 20 offensive rebounds, but Keatts is confident his players will bounce back with a stronger effort.

“This team has a lot of fight, a lot of grit,” he said. “It was a good ACC road fight and this team will build from it.”

Saturday’s matchup is a showdown of top-flight ACC guards. NC State’s DJ Horne (14.8 points, 42.5 percent 3-point shooting) squares off against Syracuse’s Judah Mintz (18.4 points, 4.3 assists).

Syracuse has won five straight matchups in the series, including a 75-72 home victory last February.

–Field Level Media

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