Syracuse had by far its best game of the season in a 80-76 victory over Georgia Tech to capture the Legends Classic championship in Atlantic City. The Orange (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) went on a 22-4 second half run and went 11-for-18 from the field as five players were in double figures. Syracuse, which had struggled shooting in its first five contests, finished 55.6 percent from the field.
Theme of the game: It was a tale of two halves for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets shot 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from 3-point land in the first half led by Brian Oliver’s 18 points. The forward scored 13 of Georgia Tech’s first 23 points in the first half, as it opened up a nine point lead on Syracuse midway through the first half. But the Orange keyed in on Oliver, and held the Yellow Jackets to just 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) from downtown in the second half.
Key to the game: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s team seems to be figuring out its identity. Boeheim played just eight players, and seemed intent on sitting starting freshmen center Fab Melo (10 minutes) for most of the game. Instead, Baye Moussa Keita and Rick Jackson played most of the minutes down low.
Syracuse also survived dispute Kris Joseph receiving his third foul with eight minutes left in the first half. Joseph was productive – when he was on the court – scoring 19 points in 22 minutes. When he was sitting, freshmen Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair stepped in for Joseph, combining for 26 points off the bench. That doesn’t bode well for Mookie Jones and James Southerland, who didn’t play at all.
Game ball goes to: Rick Jackson, Syracuse. Jackson was named tournament MVP after another brilliant showing in the block. The Orange’s lone senior scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, giving him five double-doubles on the year.
Goat: Brian Oliver, Georgia Tech. Although Oliver scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed six rebounds, he was also charged with a flagrant foul when he hammered Joseph to the ground on a fast break layup with 47.5 seconds left with the game already out of reach. Joseph was down for several minutes with an injured chest, and Scoop Jardine came in to finish out his free throws. Boeheim said Joseph was fine, but Oliver’s foul was unnecessary.
Quote to Note: “We hadn’t played well for five games and won. Tonight, we played well and we won.” — Jim Boeheim.
Next up: The Orange will face defending Ivy League Champion Cornell (2-4) on November 30 at the carrier Dome.
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.
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