Marek Dolezaj scored 20 points and Tyus Battle had 18 to help 11th-seeded Syracuse beat 14th-seeded Wake Forest 73-64 in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Syracuse (20-12) advances to face sixth-seeded and No. 12-ranked North Carolina in the second round at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. The Tar Heels earned a first-round bye after going 22-9 (11-7 ACC) in the regular season.
Bryant Crawford scored 22 points with six assists to lead Wake Forest (11-20). The Demon Deacons began the season 7-3 with a season-high six-game winning streak before falling apart in ACC play, going just 4-14 in league play without consecutive wins.
Paschal Chukwu had 14 points and nine rebounds and Frank Howard scored 11 for Syracuse, which led by as many as 19 points in the game thanks in part to efficient 54.8 percent shooting (23 of 42) from the field.
The Orange won just two of their final six regular-season games in pursuit of their first NCAA Tournament berth since the 2015-16 season, when they advanced to the Final Four before coming up short against the Tar Heels.
Syracuse was defeated in its only regular-season game this year against then-10th ranked North Carolina, 78-74, on Feb. 21.
The Orange were up as many as 16 points in the opening period and led 30-24 at halftime.
Chukwu’s layup with 8:12 remaining had Syracuse on top 56-37, but Wake Forest whittled the lead down to single digits and was within six at 54-58 after two Brandon Childress free throws with 1:24 left.
A Chukwu dunk and two Oshae Brissett (10 points, nine rebounds) layups had the Orange lead by up to double digits, and they made their free throws to seal it.
Wake Forest and Syracuse split their two-game regular season series, with the Demon Deacons earning their first ACC win in a 73-67 decision against the Orange on Jan. 3 before losing 78-70 on the road on Feb. 11.
—Field Level Media