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Syracuse, Fair suffer through miserable shooting game in 66-63 loss


GREENSBORO, N.C. — C.J. Fair never looked comfortable for No. 11 Syracuse. It was a big reason why the Orange’s first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament ended after just one game.

Fair, the preseason league player of the year and the Orange’s leading scorer, finished with nine points on 3-for-16 shooting in the 66-63 loss to North Carolina State in Friday night’s quarterfinals.

Fair went 2 for 12 in the first half and things got no better for the 6-foot-8 senior after halftime.

“It seemed like a lot of ... burden was on me because I didn’t perform like I usually do,” he said. “It’s tough, so I’ve got to try my best not to let this happen again.”

Fair was averaging 16.9 points and shooting 44 percent coming in and had been strong in his last two games against Georgia Tech and Florida State. Fair scored 50 points while making 21 of 38 shots (55 percent) in those games.

“I thought C.J. got the shots he normally makes,” coach Jim Boeheim said.

“I think he’s the best offensive player in the league. I think he was clearly the best player in the league this year. ... C.J. got the shots we’d like him to get.”

For N.C. State, T.J. Warren scored 28 points while Ralston Turner banked in the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 left.

The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-12) blew a 10-point second-half lead but came through with two clutch baskets late to hold off the Orange (27-5).

Warren followed Turner’s tiebreaking 3 with a jumper to make it 64-61, then hit two free throws with 24.6 seconds left to keep the Wolfpack up three.

Syracuse had one wild final possession, missing six shots — including four hurried 3-pointers from Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney and Fair — to ensure its first trip to the ACC tournament would be a one-and-done stop.

It was a huge win for N.C. State’s NCAA tournament hopes and allowed to avenge a loss to the Orange last month on a last-second basket.

The Wolfpack will face either Clemson or Duke in today’s semifinals, marking the third time in as many seasons that N.C. State has reached today at the ACC tournament under Mark Gottfried.

This win could help Gottfried also make it 3 for 3 when it comes to making the NCAAs, too.

Ennis scored 15 of his 21 points after halftime for Syracuse, which was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the country a month ago but has faded down the stretch. The tournament’s No. 2 seed had lost four of six coming into Greensboro, though Boeheim dismissed the suggestion that his team was in a slump.

That talk will probably grow louder with another loss heading into the NCAA tournament.

Syracuse shot just 33 percent.

Warren, the ACC’s leading scorer and player of the year, finished 9 for 21 from the field but hit 10 of 12 free throws and grabbed eight rebounds. Fifth-year senior Jordan Vandenberg added 10 points for N.C. State, which led 28-25 at halftime then shot 52 percent after halftime.

The Wolfpack’s win against reigning champion Miami in Thursday’s second round set up the rematch the Orange, who was still atop the polls when they edged N.C. State 56-55 at the Carrier Dome on Feb. 15.

Syracuse won that after the Wolfpack committed a late turnover that led to Fair’s winning layup with 6.7 seconds left. There was also a much-discussed call in which officials waved off a basket from Warren while being fouled with 13.6 seconds left because the foul came before the shot.

This one came down the stretch just like before, but the Wolfpack didn’t let the lead slip away this time.

Pittsburgh 80, N. Carolina 75

Talib Zanna had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds to help the No. 5 seed Panthers beat the No. 4 Tar Heels in the ACC quarterfinals at Greensboro, N.C.

James Robinson also scored a career-best 19 points for the fifth-seeded Panthers (25-8), who used a dominating start to build a huge lead before having to hold off a late rally by the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (23-9).

Pittsburgh led by 20 points with 7:22 left before UNC’s frantic comeback behind Marcus Paige, who scored 20 of his 27 points after halftime before fouling out with 25.4 seconds left.

UNC got it to 78-75 on Nate Britt’s jumper with 11.4 seconds left but couldn’t complete the comeback. James Robinson knocked down two free throws to make it a two-possession game again right after Britt’s score, then Lamar Patterson rebounded a hurried 3-pointer by James Michael McAdoo with 4.3 seconds left to essentially seal it.

Virginia 64, Florida St. 51

Joe Harris matched a season high with 20 points, and the top-seeded Cavaliers pulled away in an ACC quarterfinal.

Anthony Gill added 16 points for the No. 6-ranked Cavaliers (26-6).

They shot 48 percent, forced 15 turnovers and earned their third double-digit victory over the Seminoles this season while reaching the semifinals for the first time since 1995.

Okaro White scored 17 points and Aaron Thomas added 13 for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (19-13).

They shot 43 percent against one of the nation’s best defenses, but couldn’t keep the Cavaliers off the boards when it counted most, and were denied their third victory over a top-seeded team since 2009.

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