On Senior Day at the Carrier Dome, “Silent G” was no talk and all action. Michael Gbinije spent the last 11 minutes of his career on the Carrier Dome floor single-handedly keeping Syracuse in control, either scoring or assisting on 21 consecutive Orange points after a North Carolina State 8-0 run. Gbinije’s effort paid off as SU secured a 75-66 win to move to 19-10 on the season and 9-7 in ACC play.
The Wolfpack (14-15, 4-12) were game, slicing an early second half margin from 17 points down to nine, but they could not get closer than five as Gbinije and his career-high 34 points kept them at arm’s length.
Gbinije’s offensive outburst helped the Orange shoot 46.4 percent on the day, including just under 52 percent in the second half. That helped offset Syracuse’s 17 turnovers, which NC State converted into 19 points, nearly double what SU mustered in that category in spite of forcing 15 miscues.
North Carolina State got the opening bucket of the game, but Syracuse scored the next four and never trailed again. While the Wolfpack tied the score twice, first at four, then at six, but Michael Gbinije set up Malachi Richardson for a transition three-pointer on the left wing for a 9-6 lead, one the Orange would never give up.
Gbinije then got himself in the scoring column, sticking a three from the top of the key to extend the lead to four. The ‘Pack narrowed the gap to a single point, but SU responded with eight straight points.
After a poor pass in transition, Trevor Cooney saved the ball to Tyler Lydon, who found Gbinije in the clear on the right wing for a three. Frank Howard then ran a nice pick-and-roll with Lydon, who finished on the doorstep for another two. Howard then found Gbinije on the left wing for another trey to give Syracuse a 22-13 lead with just over eight minutes left in the opening half.
NC State struck back with five points, but the Orange would stretch the lead to eight points twice more before intermission on threes. Gbinije hit one to make it 28-20 with less than three minutes on the clock, then Richardson his one from the left wing with under four seconds remaining (and his second triple in the half’s final 40 seconds) for a 34-26 SU halftime lead.
Syracuse continued building their lead when the second half started. Tyler Roberson started the session’s scoring with a jump hook, then DaJuan Coleman muscled into the paint and got a friendly bounce to trigger a three-point-play. Gbinije then set up Richardson for a two-handed slam on the fast break and the Orange held a 41-26 lead with just over two minutes elapsed.
After NC State got a three-point-play of their own, Gbinije dropped in an awkward looking floater, then curled to the right wing and splashed a three pointer for the largest lead of the day at 17 points. The ‘Pack struck back with five points, but Lydon matched it with a three-pointer from the right corner and a two-handed dunk in transition off a nifty bounce pass from Gbinije. The slam but SU on top by 17 points again, this time at 51-34 with just over 14 minutes to play.
North Carolina State scored the next eight points of the game to pull within nine. Then Gbiinje took over for Syracuse.
With just under 11 minutes on the clock, the fifth-year senior banged home a three from the right wing. After the ‘Pack got a pair of free throws, Gbinije threw down a tomahawk jam in transition, then fed Richardson on a run out for two more and a 58-44 lead.
State posted a 12-3 run with Gbinije’s foul shots being the only SU offense in that span. But, with the Orange only up five, Gbinije stuck a three of the right wing to give them some more breathing room. After a pair of foul shots for the guests, Gbinije fed Lydon off a slip screen for two more points. Gbinije then added another free throw for a 67-58 lead with 3:33 left to play.
After a Wolfpack basket, Gbinije drilled a three from the left wing to make it 70-60 in favor of Syracuse. NC State got four free throws to pull within a half dozen, but the Orange milked the shot clock and Gbinije stepped back from the foul line and buried a jumper to make it 72-64 with just over 80 seconds remaining.
The Wolfpack came up empty twice and Cooney dropped in three free throws over two trips for an 11-point Syracuse lead. The only things remaining for SU were the final Carrier Dome ovations for Gbinije and Cooney, which came during a pair of foul shots in the final ten seconds of the contest.
Michael Gbinije did a whole lot of everything in his final collegiate home game. Gbinije hit 8-of-13 three-pointers en route to a career-high 34 points and also handed out six assists and notched three blocked shots. Malachi Richardson also reached double digits in scoring with 13 points and also dished out a team-leading seven assists. Tyler Lydon chipped in with 11 points. In his final home game, Trevor Cooney had a rough day, finishing with five points on 1-for-8 shooting, including 0-for-6 on three-pointers.
Caleb Martin led a balanced NC State offense with 18 points. Anthony “Cat” Barber finished with 15 points and Abdul-Malik Abu posted a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double. Maverick Rowan chipped in with ten points for the Wolfpack.
The Orange will start a two-game road trip to close the regular season on Saturday, when they travel to Chapel Hill to take on #7 North Carolina. SU looks to avenge an 84-73 home loss to the Tar Heels (23-6, 12-4) in early January that was Jim Boeheim’s first game back following his nine-game suspension. UNC dropped a 79-74 game at Virginia on Saturday night, their fourth loss in eight games.
Trevor Cooney led Syracuse with 27 points, including making five three-pointers, in the opening game between the two schools. Malachi Richardson chipped in with 16 points for the Orange. Carolina shot 52.5 percent from the field in that game, led by Isaiah Hicks’ 21 points. Top Tar Heel scorer Brice Johnson had 16 points, as did Justin Jackson.
ESPN will televise the contest, which starts at 7:00pm Eastern. The game will also be available online at espn3.com and through the ESPN app.