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Syracuse holds off second-half WVU push

The Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Preston Shumpert scored 25 points and DeShaun Williams had 23 as No. 11 Syracuse held off West Virginia 86-80 on Saturday night.

It marked the 10th straight time the Mountaineers (9-4, 0-2 Big East) have lost to a ranked team, but they made Syracuse (15-1, 4-0 Big East) work hard for this one.

Allen Griffin had 13 points and 13 assists, and Damone Brown had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Orangemen, who shot 48 percent for the game.

Calvin Bowman led West Virginia with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Lionel Armstead had 18 points, Chris Moss had 16, and Tim Lyles added 11 and 12 assists. The Mountaineers hit 53 percent of their shots.

Leading by 11 to start the second half, Syracuse threatened to run away with the game. Shumpert hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game, and Williams followed with a runner in the lane in the first minute of play to make it 47-31.

Griffin's three-point play boosted the lead to 52-37 with 16:48 left, but the Mountaineers rallied with 11 straight points in a 2:53 span.

Armstead hit a pair of 3s, Lyles hit another and Moss's rebound basket narrowed the Syracuse lead to 52-48 with 14:50 left.

From then on, every time Syracuse appeared ready to take control, the Mountaineers rallied as both teams forgot about defense.

When Kueth Duany's layup midway through the period gave the Orangemen a 65-56 lead, Moss responded with a three-point play and John Oliver hit a layup.

When Shumpert converted a fast-break layup, Armstead replied with one of his six 3s.

After Lyles converted two free throws to pull West Virginia within 74-71 with 3:53 left, two plays by Syracuse center Billy Celuck helped the Orangemen hold on.

Celuck, who sat out the previous two games because of academic problems, hit a jumper in the lane and fed Brown for an easy layup and Syracuse had a 78-72 lead.

Armstead then hit his last two 3s but missed two others in the final minute as Syracuse escaped.

Syracuse had its shooting touch in the early going, going 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first six minutes. Shumpert had a pair of 3s and Griffin and Williams each had one as the Orangemen opened a 20-10 lead.

But the Orangemen's long-range accuracy quickly disappeared. They went 2-for-11 on 3s for the remainder of the half and allowed the Mountaineers to stay within striking distance.

Consecutive baskets from in close by Alex Chan moved West Virginia within 39-31 with just over two minutes left. Williams hit a 3 from the corner a minute later to give Syracuse a 42-31 halftime lead.

The Orangemen had 15 assists -- eight by Griffin -- on the 17 baskets they scored in the first half and finished with 26.