SYRACUSE, N.Y. (seminoles.com) – Florida State’s Caleb Mills led scored a game-high 19 points and the RayQuan Evans hit key free throws down the stretch, as the Seminoles defeated Syracuse, 76-71, at the Carrier Dome. The Seminoles outscored the Orange by a 40-34 margin in the second half and shot 55 percent from the field for the game to win their third consecutive ACC game.
Mills shot five of six from beyond the arc, was a perfect two of two from the free throw line, and had two steals.
Five different Seminoles made at least one 3-point shot, as the Seminoles shot .600 from the three-point line in their second game of the season against the Orange. The two teams split their season series, with each team winning on its opponent’s home court.
The Seminoles have now won three straight ACC games, including victories over Louisville (Jan. 8, 79-70), Miami (Jan. 11, 65-64) and now Syracuse. Florida State has now won two of three ACC road games with victories at NC State (Jan. 1, 83-81) and Syracuse.
The first half started slowly for Florida State, as Syracuse was able to hold a steady lead for most of the half. After a late 8-0 run by the Seminoles and three triples, Florida State went into the locker room down by just one, 37-36.
The Seminoles gained their first lead early in the second half, but Syracuse continuously responded. In a game focused on scoring runs, the Seminoles scored six unanswered points and went into the under four-minute media timeout up 67-64.
Following a missed layup by Syracuse’s Jimmy Boeheim that would have given them the Orange the lead, Seminole freshman Matthew Cleveland sealed the win with a powerful dunk with five seconds remaining in the game.
Cleveland scored nine points and is averaging 13.4 points per game in the last five games.
In his first career start for the Seminoles, sophomore Naheem McLeod recorded four points. He has scored 30 of his 45 points this season (.667 percent) in the first six ACC games of his career. McLeod is shooting .692 from the field (nine of 13) in the last four games, and shooting .667 from the field for the season (18 of 27).
Redshirt senior RayQuan Evans contributed 15 points and two steals for the Seminoles. Evans was a perfect three of three from the line and is shooting .784 from the free throw line during his three seasons as a Seminole. He ranks 10th in the ACC in steals with a 1.7 steals per game average.
In earning seven steals, the Seminoles continue to lead the ACC with a 9.7 steals per game average.
Redshirt senior Harrison Prieto totaled a team-high and career-high three steals in his a career-high 15 minutes of playing time. He was a perfect two of two from the field in scoring four points this afternoon.
In shooting 12 of 20 from beyond the arc, five different Seminoles were responsible for at least one triple. Mills (five), Evans (two), Anthony Polite (one), Cam’Ron Fletcher (one), and Wyatt Wilkes (three) were all successful from the three-point line against Syracuse.
Wilkes ended with 11 total points and shot .500 percent from the field.
Florida State’s bench outscored Syracuse’s bench by a 29-4 point margin. The Seminoles’ bench now has earned 14 double figure scoring efforts with Cleveland (eight), Cam’Ron Fletcher (four) and Wyatt Wilkes (two) leading the way. In ACC play this season, Florida State’s bench has outscored their opponents’ benched by a 176-73 point margin.
Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim (18 points), Cole Swider (17 points), Jesse Edwards (15 points) and Joseph Girard (11 points) all scored in double figures for the Orange.
The Seminoles return home for a much-anticipated match-up against No. 8 Duke on Tuesday, January 18. The game tips off at 9pm and will air nationally on ESPN.