PHILADELPHIA — A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 82-77 overtime loss to No. 7 Villanova in front of 18,369 at the Wells Fargo Center in the South Philadelphia sports complex Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: Playing its best all around game so far in the first half Syracuse (6-4) never trailed until overtime, and led by as many as 15 points before the Wildcats stormed back. In a frantic final 17 seconds of regulation, SU couldn’t hold a five point lead with ‘Nova tying the game with :04 left. The Orange ran out of gas, as three key players, components to building the big lead, fouled out in overtime leading to the final five point margin.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse came into the game as heavy underdogs versus the No. 7 unbeaten Wildcats, but it was the Orange who came out playing with a chip on their shoulders shooting a blistering 63%, including 4 of 6 from three point range (three for Trevor Cooney who had 17 points) to lead by eight at the half. SU’s aggressive zone gave Nova fits before VU guard Darrun Hilliard shot the ‘Cats (11-0) back in the game scoring 12 of his 23 points in the second half, and the Orange got sloppy with the ball, specifically a key turnover up two which allowed Nova’s JayVaughn Pinkston to tie the game with :04 in regulation. In OT, once down, SU had to foul and Villanova hit its foul shots to secure the wild comeback win in front of a great home crowd.
HERO: Orange swingman Michael Gbinije had a big game at both ends before picking up his fourth personal midway through the second half, but finished up down the stretch contributing 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Kaleb Joseph had 10 assists and four turnovers with eight of his 10 points coming in the second half, and Rakeen Christmas had 18 points in his Philly homecoming before fouling out in OT.
ZERO: Turnovers when the game was on the line in the second half. The Orange got sloppy with the basketball giving Nova second chance scoring opportunities in the final 10 minutes overall, and the final 17 seconds of regulation allowing VU one final chance to tie or win. SU finished with 20 turnovers, a season high.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to face annual upstate foe Colgate on Monday night, Dec. 22, at the Dome. The Red Raiders (3-8) haven’t played since Dec. 14, falling to New Hampshire 63-57. Colgate last beat Syracuse on Feb. 24, 1962 at the downtown War Memorial 67-63. Time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPNU.