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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes dug an early 18-point deficit against No. 2 Syracuse, and went 7½ minutes without a basket down the stretch. Even so, they flirted with an upset Saturday before losing to the Orange, 64-52.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga said the game showed that Syracuse is really good, and his team — with five new starters this season — is really young.
"Our inexperience makes us inconsistent," Larranaga said. "Quite honestly, there's nothing we can do about it."
Miami (10-9, 2-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) did well to avoid a blowout after falling behind 26-8. The Hurricanes rallied, and Syracuse led only 31-26 at halftime.
"We fought back and really started locking down and started making them miss," Miami's Rion Brown said.
But after taking a 47-46 lead, the Hurricanes missed six straight shots down the stretch.
"When we had to stop them, we stopped them," Orange coach Jim Boeheim said.
For the second time in three weeks, Syracuse (19-0, 6-0) rallied late to beat the defending conference champions. The Orange need one more victory to tie the school record for most wins to start a season, set two years ago.
Both teams played a stingy zone, and at a methodical pace that made easy shots infrequent. The game was nearly 30 minutes old before either side had a fast-break basket.
A 39-24 rebounding advantage helped Syracuse hold off Miami.
Davon Reed scored 16 points for the Hurricanes, who kept it close by shooting 9 of 17 from 3-point range. Brown added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Miami's James Kelly was helped to the locker room with 3½ minutes to go with a sprained left ankle, an injury which seemed to deflate the Hurricanes. They fell to 4-6 at home this season.
The game drew a sellout crowd, the seventh in Larranaga's three seasons with the attendance-challenged Hurricanes. The stands were a sea of orange, including plenty of visiting or transplanted New Yorkers rooting for Syracuse.
Both sides were roaring when Miami made a comeback after trailing by 18 points in the first half. The Orange had to rally in the final minutes to beat Miami three weeks ago, and the Hurricanes again had an upset on their minds.
Reed hit a 3-pointer that cut Syracuse's lead to 46-44, then converted a three-point play on the next possession to put them ahead for the first time since the opening minute.
The Orange dug in. Miami missed its next six shots and trailed 58-50 before making another basket, and by then the game was in the final minute.
"Basically what it says is they're really good," Larranaga said. "They have all the weapons offensively and defensively you need to be successful, and they're a legitimate contender to win a national championship. They've got NBA guys."
Freshman Tyler Ennis' driving layup put Syracuse ahead to stay, 51-49, with 4:45 left. The Orange shot only 17 for 27 from the free throw line but made all eight in the last minute.
"One thing they do excellent is closing out down the stretch and having poise," Reed said.
The Orange, who shot 3 for 15 from 3-point range in their earlier game against Miami, this time made their first three shots from behind the arc. Syracuse went on a 16-1 run to build its big early lead.
The Hurricanes rallied with a 16-2 spurt and trailed only 31-26 at halftime. They shot 67 percent during one extended stretch spanning both halves, but that wasn't enough.
"Against the Syracuse zone, you might be able to get something for a little while, like 3s from the wing or shots from the high post," Larranaga said. "But if you get it a couple of times in a row, they take it away."