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Wichita St. survives late collapse to shock Syracuse

Dec 3, 2006 - 2:41 AM SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Kyle Wilson and Wichita State survived a nearly embarrassing collapse.

Wilson scored 17 points and Sean Ogirri added 16 as the No. 22 Shockers managed to hold off a frenzied rally by 14th-ranked Syracuse and claim a 64-61 victory.

Leading by 23 points in the first half and 19 with 9:23 remaining in the contest, the Shockers (6-0) saw that advantage evaporate as they struggled to deal with the full-court pressure of the Orange.

The late run by Syracuse kind of surprised Wichita State Mark Turgeon, who admitted he expected it to come earlier or not at all.

"No, I didn't think I'd be sweating it out at the end," he said. "I screwed up.

"I told my staff at halftime that Syracuse would make a run and then with seven minutes left I thought that maybe they wouldn't. We went into our delay game way too early."

Syracuse (7-1) tied the contest at 61-61 with 1:46 remaining after Darryl Watkins' follow shot off a missed layup by freshman Paul Harris, capping a 21-2 run that spanned 7:05.

After Wichita State's Ryan Martin split two free throws 21 seconds later, the Shockers saw the Orange struggle in two opportunities to grab the lead.

With about a minute remaining, Demetris Nichols forced up an ill-advised 3-pointer. The 6-8 senior forward appeared to make up for that mistake when he stole a cross-court pass about 40 seconds later and drove for go-ahead layup. However, Nichols lost control of the ball on his jump, front-rimming the shot, and Wichita State took possession when Harris knocked the ball out of bounds battling for the rebound.

"This was as good a comeback as we can make," Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. "It was an unbelievable four minutes. I thought Demetris got fouled going to the basket. It was an unbelievable effort at the end but you just can't put yourself in that position."

Struggling with their ball-handling for most of the final nine minutes, Wilson took the inbounds pass and was quickly fouled. The senior forward sank both free throws with 13 seconds left for a 64-61 edge.

"We panicked a bit at the end and we missed some open shots," Turgeon said. "We won despite my coaching."

Syracuse had a final chance to answer, but Eric Devendorf's attempt from the arc was blocked by P.J. Couisnard.

"We put all our shooters in, they were going to switch and they did switch," Boeheim said about the final play. "It's going to be virtually impossible to get a good look at the end."

Phillip Thomasson had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Shockers, who also upset then-No. 6 Louisiana State last Saturday. Wichita State beat two ranked foes in the same season for the first time since 1968-69.

Despite their struggles in the second half, the Shockers were outstanding in the first, going ahead 35-12 on a 3-pointer by Ogirri with 5:54 remaining.

Wichita State took that lead in dominating fashion, going on a 27-1 spurt where Ogirri scored eight points and Wilson added six.

The Shockers shot 5-of-9 on 3-pointers during the spurt, including a pair by the 6-8 Wilson on as many attempts. They finished 33 percent (10-of-30) from the arc for the game.

"We've had that happen before, maybe not that bad, but we're not executing on offense and we made some poor defensive plays and we just kept making mistakes on both ends," Boeheim said about the lopsided spurt.

Although it faced the huge hole, Syracuse closed the first half with a 13-4 run, cutting the deficit to 39-25 at the break.

"We can't come out like that," said Harris, who missed his only shot in the first half. We'll learn from it. It caught up to us but we showed an awful lot of character and heart tonight."

After a scoreless first half, Harris led the Orange's charge after intermission, scoring 14 points. He hit his first career 3-pointer on 10 attempts with 17:06 remaining.

"In the second half, I knew my team needed me so I took it to them," he said. "We were determined to win but just came up short."

Josh Wright added another shot from the arc off an inbounds pass and Watkins split two free throws to make it 47-34 with 16:11 to go. However, Wilson sank two from the stripe, Thomasson scored five straight points for his team and Ogirri hit a jumper and 3-pointer to build the lead back up to 59-40 with 9:26 left.

Terrence Roberts scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Watkins added nine, 13 and seven blocks for Syracuse, which lost despite a 47-34 advantage in rebounding and 32-20 edge in points in the paint.

Nichols finished just 2-of-14 from the field with six points and nine boards for the Orange, who face Oklahoma State in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

"It is one of those important games prior to the Big East," Nichols said. "We know a lot about Oklahoma State and we have two more days to be ready. We have to make sure we put this behind us."

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