Syracuse’s defense clamps down on NC State

JJ Starling scored a career-high 26 points as Syracuse closed out a three-game homestand with a crisp 77-65 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday evening.

The Orange (14-6, 5-4 ACC) split the first two games of their homestand against Miami and Florida State before authoring one of their best performances of the season. Syracuse led by as many as 21 points as it suffocated the Wolfpack, who shot just 35.8 percent from the field.

Joining Starling in double figures for the Orange were Judah Mintz (20), Chris Bell (13) and Benny Williams (11). Mintz shot 14 of 20 from the foul line and rounded out his effort with nine assists, four rebounds and four steals.

DJ Horne paced the Wolfpack (13-7, 5-4) with 15 points, while Casey Morsell added 14 and DJ Burns Jr. chipped in 10.

NC State led 18-15 with just over eight minutes left in the first half before Syracuse started to take control.

Bell’s 3-pointer ignited a 23-4 run to end the half, but the sophomore forward was just getting started. He made another 3-pointer less than a minute later, and then added another triple and a dunk shortly thereafter as the Orange took their first double-digit lead at 28-18.

Mintz scored seven points in the final two minutes of the half as the hosts led 38-22 at the break. Starling (14 points) and Bell (11) combined to outscore the visitors by themselves in the first half.

The Wolfpack shot just 6 of 29 (20.7 percent) in the opening 20 minutes. Starling had as many field goals as NC State in the first half.

Early in the second half, Mintz made two foul shots and Starling drained a 3-pointer to push the lead north of 20 for the first time at 49-28.

The Wolfpack got their deficit down to 14 on Jayden Taylor’s 3-pointer with 8:45 remaining. Then they clawed within 11 on Morsell’s layup with 5 1/2 minutes left. However, Starling made another 3-pointer a minute later and the Orange held on down the stretch.