Syracuse’s streak lives on, barely.
With their key players struggling, the top-ranked Orange used their defense to remain unbeaten, edging North Carolina State, 56-55, on C.J. Fair’s layup with 6.7 seconds left Saturday night in Syracuse, N.Y.
Rakeem Christmas started the winning sequence with a steal off a trap in the left corner, and Fair finished it with a layup in transition.
‘‘We got out of it by making a good play at the end,’’ Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘‘We were able to make some good plays finally at the end, and one big play.’’
Ralston Turner missed a 3-pointer for N.C. State with 2:45 left with Syracuse (25-0, 12-0 ACC) clinging to a 1-point lead, and then Fair was off on a hook driving across the lane.
After N.C. State’s Anthony Barber hit the side of the backboard with a baseline jumper, Jerami Grant missed a spinning drive in the lane for Syracuse.
Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, so cool and collected all year, then showed he’s human, fouling Turner while shooting a three, and he made all three free throws to give the Wolfpack a 55-53 lead with 62 seconds left.
Fair sank 1 of 2 foul shots with 41.4 seconds remaining and N.C. State’s Desmond Lee then lost the ball out of bounds when he was double-teamed at midcourt.
Ennis negated that turnover with a charge with 14.7 seconds left, but the Wolfpack couldn’t close it out.
After a timeout with 18.3 seconds to go, Christmas stole the ball and Fair put the Orange in front when N.C. State was whistled for goaltending on his layup attempt.
Christmas had 14 points and set career highs with 12 rebounds and seven blocks as Syracuse, which next hosts Boston College on Wednesday, earned its 10th single-digit win despite shooting 35.2 percent. Grant had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Fair scored 11 points.
‘‘We keep our composure all the time,’’ Christmas said. ‘‘We don’t let anything get to us.’’
After Fair’s winning layup, T.J. Warren (23 points) missed from the top of the key on one last try for N.C. State (16-9, 6-6).
Syracuse won its last game, a 58-56 triumph over Pittsburgh Wednesday night, on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Ennis.
Florida 69, Kentucky 59 — Casey Prather had 24 points, Scottie Wilbekin added 23, and the third-ranked Gators (23-2, 12-0 SEC) edged the No. 14 Wildcats (19-6, 9-3) in Lexington, Ky., for their 17th straight win.
Andrew Harrison scored 20 points and Julius Randle had 13 to go along with 13 rebounds for Kentucky, which was outscored, 41-28, in the second half.
San Diego State 64, Air Force 56 — Winston Shepard scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 7:14 and the fifth-ranked Aztecs (22-2, 11-1 Mountain West) bounced back from their first loss since Nov. 14 to beat the visiting Falcons (10-14, 4-9).
Kansas 95, TCU 65 — Perry Ellis scored a career-high 32 points, Andrew Wiggins added 17, and the No. 7 Jayhawks (19-6, 10-2 Big 12) overcame a sluggish start to rout the visiting Horned Frogs.
The Jayhawks used 13-1 and 23-5 charges in the second half put away TCU (9-15, 0-12).
Duke 69, Maryland 67 — Jabari Parker scored 23 points and the No. 8 Blue Devils (20-5, 9-3 ACC) overcame missing 17 of their first 19 shots in the second half to beat the Terrapins in Durham, N.C.
Duke reached the 20-win mark for the 18th straight year and won for the 30th straight time at Cameron Indoor Stadium — tying Stephen F. Austin for the longest active streak in the country.
Jake Layman scored 18 points for Maryland (14-12, 6-7) and Dez Wells had all 17 of his points in the second half.
Charles Mitchell finished with 12 for the Terrapins, but missed two hook shots in the final 10 seconds that would have given them the lead.
Cincinnati 73, Houston 62 — Sean Kilpatrick scored 28 points and Justin Jackson overcame foul trouble to add 13 points, all in the second half, as the 10th-ranked Bearcats shook off the Cougars (12-13, 4-8 American Athletic) in Cincinnati.
The Bearcats (23-3, 12-1) utilized an 18-5 run over the final 6:41 to prevail in their first game since having a 15-game winning streak snapped.
Iowa State 70, Texas Tech 64 — DeAndre Kane had 17 points with nine assists and the No. 11 Cyclones (19-5, 7-5 Big 12) beat the visiting Red Raiders (13-12, 5-7) after blowing an 18-point lead in the second half.
Saint Louis 64, VCU 62 — Dwayne Evans had 21 points and 10 rebounds and the 12th-ranked Billikens broke a late tie with 7 straight points, beating the visiting Rams for their 17th consecutive victory.
Saint Louis (23-2, 10-0 Atlantic 10) blew a 12-point second-half lead before finally putting away Virginia Commonwealth (20-6, 8-3).
Iowa 82, Penn State 70 — Melsahn Basabe scored 16 points and the No. 16 Hawkeyes used a 14-4 run in the second half to pull away from the Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9) in State College, Pa.
Roy Devyn Marble had 15 points as Iowa (19-6, 8-4) won its third straight Big Ten road game, the school’s longest streak since 1998.
Virginia 63, Clemson 55 — Joe Harris had 16 points, including a critical 3-pointer with about three minutes left, and the No. 17 Cavaliers (21-5, 12-1) edged the host Tigers (15-9, 6-6) to win their ninth straight ACC game for the first time since Ralph Sampson dominated the middle in 1981-82.
Texas 88, West Virginia 71 — Javan Felix scored 18 points, Cameron Ridley added 17, and the 19th-ranked Longhorns (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) romped past the Mountaineers (15-11, 7-6) at home.
Ohio State 48, Illinois 39 — Aaron Craft scored 14 points and the No. 22 Buckeyes (20-6, 7-6 Big Ten) held the host Illini to 28.3 percent shooting (15 of 53) in a victory.
Illinois (14-12, 3-10) scored just 9 points over the first 15:35 minutes of the second half and lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
North Carolina 75, Pittsburgh 71 — James Michael McAdoo had 24 points and 12 rebounds to help the host Tar Heels (17-7, 7-4 ACC) top the No. 25 Panthers for their sixth straight win.
Lamar Patterson had 16 points and four steals for Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5), which has had its past five games decided by 5 points or fewer, going 2-3 in that span.