Syracuse got revenge on Georgetown, defeating the Hoyas 58-55 in overtime to move on to the Big East Tournament finals. Here are some thoughts on the game:
What a game
It’s hard to write a post-game story about this game without talking about the significance of the rivalry and how it all ended. The game last Saturday at the Verizon Center was a tough pill for Orange fans to swallow. The rivalry ended (we thought) on a blowout. But Madison Square Garden wouldn’t let it end that way. These two teams met one more time and the rivalry went out in stunning fashion. Even if Syracuse would have lost, the overtime thriller was an amazing way for this rivalry to end on a memorable note.
CJ Fair Struggles
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fair have a game like that. Not only did he shoot just 3-for-16, but he made some mental mistakes that are extremely uncharacteristic. It just wasn’t what I expected from the player who has scored in double-digits 27 times this season. But what’s important is that he never hung his head. He kept playing tough defense and he kept trying to score. That paid off when he threw down a huge slam-dunk late in the game to give the Orange a lead. That dunk put CJ in the 1,000-point club at Syracuse University and propelled the team to victory. I’m pretty confident that he’ll snap out of it. He was being guarded by the Hoyas’ best defender, Otto Porter, who locked him down all day. I’m sure we’ll see the Fair we all know and love tomorrow against Louisville and in the NCAA Tournament.
The Unsung Heroes
Syracuse wouldn’t have won this game if it weren’t for the unsung heroes. Baye Keita and Trevor Cooney deserve an incredible amount of credit. The only way to win the toughest games you play is for people to step up who you never expected to make a difference. Cooney is the epitome of that. He entered the game in the first half because of Triche’s foul trouble. All season, Cooney has struggled offensively but been pretty good on defense. He started off with a turnover on offense, which goes right along with what he’s been doing all year. But then he hit a midrange jumper … then a three pointer … THEN ANOTHER! He scored ten points in Triche’s absence, leading all scorers at the half. Keita played 41 minutes after it was clear Christmas wouldn’t be able to make a difference. Keita grabbed six offensive rebounds and scored 13 points. But most importantly, he was 7-for-7 from the foul line, which is pretty incredible considering he’s shooting 48% this season. And even though those seven free throws seem minimal, they were extremely important. Had he missed one, it could have been a completely different game.
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