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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Freshman Tyler Ennis scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and No. 2 Syracuse beat Wake Forest 67-57 on Wednesday night to match the best start in program history.
C.J. Fair added 16 points for the Orange (20-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) while Trevor Cooney scored all eight of his in the final 1:45.
Syracuse remained one of three unbeaten teams in Division I with No. 1 Arizona, which beat Stanford 60-57 on Wednesday, and No. 4 Wichita State.
The Orange pulled away late while sidestepping a possible trap with a visit from No. 17 Duke coming up this weekend, and joined the 2011-12 group as the only Orange teams to win their first 20 games.
But in their first visit to Tobacco Road as ACC members, they had to work for it against a Wake Forest team that had been perfect at home and tough on visitors in the top five.
Travis McKie scored 12 points for the Demon Deacons (14-7, 4-4), and his free throw with 4:10 left pulled them to 54-49.
But while Wake Forest came up empty on its next two trips down court, Cooney caught fire.
The guard buried a fall-away jumper, followed that with two free throws to give Syracuse its first double-figure lead and streaked down court for an open-court dunk after a steal by Fair to put the Orange up 62-50 with 1:19 left.
By then, they could look ahead to hosting the Blue Devils at the Carrier Dome in one of the season's most widely anticipated matchups.
Devin Thomas scored 12 points for Wake Forest, which had won 13 straight at Joel Coliseum and had won three straight home games against top-five teams — a run that included a rout of then-No. 2 Miami last season.
Just about all of the Demon Deacons' key stats suggested they would be blown out: They shot just 34 percent, were outrebounded 55-35, made just three of their 20 3-point attempts and were 18 of 30 from the free throw line.
But some of the Orange's numbers were equally poor — they shot just 36 percent and were 22 of 33 from the free throw line — and that allowed Wake Forest to keep them within striking distance for much of the game.
Joel Coliseum was buzzing when Wake Forest turned an eight-point deficit into a one-possession game in the span of a few seconds midway through the second half.
Robert Morris transfer Coron Williams swished a 3-pointer before Madison Jones swiped the ball from Cooney and hit a quick layup to make it 40-37 with 12½ minutes left.
Ennis, who was 0 for 6 from the field in the first half, followed by reeling off eight points — all on drives down or across the lane — in about 4 minutes to give the Orange a bit of breathing room.
His finger roll helped Syracuse match its largest lead to that point, 48-40, with about 8½ minutes left.
Jerami Grant finished with 10 points for the Orange.
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