It was a win they had to have. And it was payback in blowout fashion. The Syracuse men’s basketball team annihilated Georgia Tech 90-61 behind a career-high 40 points for Andrew White. He tied Gene Waldron’s record for points by an SU player in the Carrier Dome.
“Tyus [Battle] got us going and Andrew White was just phenomenal,” HOF’er Jim Boeheim said following the game.
With this win, Syracuse has now won six straight ACC Saturday home games. Five of them, including today’s victory, have come against teams it lost to in its previous regular season meeting. Not quite the TNT Bulls, but impressive, nonetheless, in a conference this difficult.
Last ride in the 3️⃣1️⃣5️⃣. Let's get this 💰 pic.twitter.com/ZuC4rzCq3Z
— Syracuse Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) March 4, 2017
The Orange treated the crowd of 30, 448 with a gift of not making them stand too long in this one, as they scored on their first possession. They began the game on a 16-4 run on 6-of-7 (4-for-4 from three) with five assists.
On Senior Day it was the freshman, Tyus Battle, who had it going early with nine points in the first 4:20 of the game. He’d finish with 22 points, his second-highest scoring mark of the season.
Seniors Tyler Roberson, John Gillon, DaJaun Coleman, Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye and White were honored before what was presumably their last game at the Dome. They all saw time on the floor. Coleman had played in just three games since New Years day, but got in late in the second-half.
Back on February 19 down in Atlanta, Syracuse blew a nine-point lead in the 71-65 loss aided by a 12-0 Georgia Tech run. In this one, SU led by as many as 16 points in the first half but the Yellow Jackets stormed back again and cut it to one-possession.
The Orange answered every bell thanks to White, who played every minute of the last 10 games before finally getting a rest this afternoon. It was his first 30-point game in an SU uniform and 29 of his points came in the second-half alone.
Syracuse fans might not be used to associating the phrase “critical game” with one that features their beloved Orange hosting Georgia Tech, but such was the case on Saturday at the Dome.
“Must win” often induces an eye roll because it’s both hyperbolic and a cliche, but this game was huge.
When examining SU’s NCAA tournament chances, it was easy for one to be pleased with the resume. This team finished 10-8 in arguably the best conference college basketball has ever seen.
It included three wins over Top-10 opponents (Florida State, Virginia and Duke). And though the win over Miami isn’t quite in that category, it was still a quality one over a team currently in the Top-25.
For the Orange, it was their first win in conference play. They rebounded from that embarrassing debacle against Boston College in the opener with a convincing 15-point win against a Hurricanes team that came in 11-2 overall.
And based on eye test, Syracuse is definitely one of the best 64 teams in the country, right? This roster is rife with talent and coached by one of the greatest to ever roam the sidelines.
But this type of perspective summarily dismisses what happened before conference play. The Orange finished with five non-conference losses, including a 33-point home loss to St. John’s.
SU’s above .500 record in the ACC is outstanding, but remember, this comes after a 3-4 start. The first loss was by 15 against the worst team in the league with an RPI ranking of 207…yikes.
So with the reality that the NCAA committee will undoubtedly look at SU’s season in its totality, a win against a Georgia Tech (also on the bubble) was crucial. The Yellow Jackets had already one-upped the Orange just a few weeks ago.
Imagine the choice coming down to your team and one that swept you in addition to having wins over UNC, FSU and Notre Dame. Sounds like a selection Sunday ridden with massive anxiety.
Fortunately, Orange Nation might be able to sleep easier after this win. Though, some success in the ACC tournament next week wouldn’t hurt.
We won’t officially find out Syracuse’s fate for another week, but all signs point to this team going dancing. Remarkable. This is the same group that was below .500 in the conference after seven games and looked lifeless. NIT anyone?
Back from the dead again came cardiac ‘Cuse. For the second-straight year, Senior Day was a huge success as the Orange improved to 8-1 at home during ACC play and 5-4 in the all-time series against Georgia Tech. And now it’s to the Barclay Center as the No. 8 seed to take on No. 9 Miami.
It’s not time to start partying just yet, the goal for this program under Jim Boeheim has customarily been to compete for titles. But take notice of how Syracuse has transcended the adversity this year. It’s been one heck or a ride that might be even be close to being over.