NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse’s thrilling 58-55 overtime win against Georgetown in the tournament semi-finals in front of a roaring, pro-Orange crowd at a sold-out Madison Square Garden Friday night.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange got revenge for the two regular season losses to the Hoyas, including the 61-39 embarrassment in Washington six days ago, by doing what they’ve done more of during this run in New York, hit opportune shots. The ‘Cuse came out hitting on just about all cylinders after falling behind 5-0 early, led by a surprising player off the bench – Trevor Cooney, who had 10-points to lead all scorers at halftime. After intermission, Baye Moussa Keita was huge replacing an ineffective Rakeem Christmas with 13-points, hitting all seven foul shots, six rebounds, a blocked shot and an assist. In OT, his follow-up basket was key to the final margin of victory.
ANALYSIS: After getting torched by GU guards Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera last weekend to the tune of 35-points with a barrage of three-pointers, the Orange zone D clamped down on the perimeter limiting the Hoyas to 4-of-17 shooting beyond the arc, while on offense, SU had 39 points with 11:56 to play in the game, its entire point total last weekend, and 23-combined bench points by Cooney and Keita were huge.
HERO: Keita hitting clutch free throws down the stretch to provide the margin of difference, going 7-for-7 from the line, in addition to his aforementioned stat line.
ZERO: Forward C.J. Fair struggled the entire evening with his shot, although being shadowed by G’town’s Otto Porter had something to do with it, finishing just 3-of-16 from the field with six points, although the last two were an emphatic dunk in OT.
WHAT’S NEXT: A shot for a sixth Big East Tournament championship Saturday night against defending champion Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino, the one-time Jim Boeheim assistant is a Hall of Fame finalist (the new class will be announced April 6 in Atlanta) for the second straight year. SU split its regular season games against the Cardinals, winning 70-68 Jan. 19 at the KFC Yum! Center, losing 58-53 in the Dome March 2. Time: 8:30 ET. TV: ESPN
Brad Bierman @BradBierman