Wednesday night, Syracuse encapsulated a lot of their season in one game, blowing an eight-point first half lead, but rallying from 16 points down in the final 8:44 of the game before pulling out a 100-93 overtime victory at North Carolina State. John Gillon exploded for one of the best shooting performances in Syracuse history, hitting 9-of-10 threes and all 14 of his foul shots as his career-high 43 points led the Orange (14-9, 6-4 ACC) comeback.
Gillon’s theatrics included four threes as the team chopped 15 points off the Wolfpack lead in under three minutes. Andrew White III owned overtime, scoring the first seven points of the extra session as SU brought home their first road win of the season and extended their winning streak to three.
As the final score suggests, the game was dominated by offense. Both teams shot over 51 percent from the field and Syracuse was even better from long range, hitting 15-of-26 from downtown (57.7 percent). The Orange also continued their great shooting at the foul line, draining 21-of-23 at the stripe.
SU was the first team to put together a meaningful run, putting together an 8-2 run for their first lead of the game for a 20-17 lead less than eight minutes into the game. NC State replied by taking back the lead, but another Orange run put them on top once more.
Andrew White III connected on a three to put Syracuse back in front, then John Gillon hit a three of his own from the right corner. Gillon added a lay-up and the 8-0 SU spurt had the visitors up, 26-22, just past the midpoint of the opening half.
The Orange would gradually stretch their lead out, pushing it to eight points on a pair of occasions, the latter coming with just under a minute left in the first half at 44-36. The Wolfpack got a three-pointer and a late pair of foul shots before the buzzer, clipping the margin to 44-41 at half.
North Carolina State came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. They strung together two huge runs, the first a 12-3 advantage and the second a 15-4 burst, to grab a stranglehold on the game. Even after the second stretch ended, they tacked on a little bit more to the margin, eventually taking a 75-59 lead with 8:44 on the clock.
That is when the alarm clocks went off for Syracuse.
Tyus Battle scored in transition, then Gillon hit a deep straightaway three. N.C. State scored a bucket in response, then the Orange made it rain. Tyler Lydon swished a three, then Gillon added one. Then Gillon hit another. And another.
The last triple from Gillon capped 12 straight Orange points and brought them within 77-76 with just over five minutes left in the second half.
The two teams traded markers until two straight successful trips gave the ‘Pack an 84-80 lead with 2:30 on the clock.
Gillon took over for the rest of regulation for SU. He made two pairs of foul shots to knot the game at 84-84, the second set with 39 seconds to go. Maverick Rowan hit a contested three for N.C. State with ten seconds left, but Gillon came down and answered with a contested three of his own by the left break with 1.8 seconds to go, knotting the score at 87.
After a pass tipped out of bounds, the Wolfpack got to inbound the ball on the offensive baseline with 1.3 seconds to go, but Rowan’s game-winning attempt missed, extending the game by five minutes.
White III took over the heavy lifting for Syracuse in overtime, scoring on the first three possessions. He drove the left side and finished with a reverse lay-up, then swished a three from just off the left corner. White III added a pair of foul shots on the next trip, staking the Orange to a 94-87 lead with 3:14 left in the extra session.
North Carolina State got a jumper to get on the board, but White cut back door and Gillon found him for a lay-up, reinstating SU’s seven-point lead. Rowan struck back with a four-point play, cutting lead to 96-93.
After each team turned the ball over, the Orange gave Gillon the rock and he made it pay off, canning a pair from the line. The ‘Pack missed a three and SU rebounded, funneling the ball to Gillon once more. Another foul led to another two points for Gillon, moving the score to 100-93. White III stole the ball on the ensuing possession and dribbled out the clock.
John Gillon’s 43 points were a career-high and stands as the most points scored by a Syracuse player since Gerry McNamara lit up BYU for 43 points in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, tying the now-assistant coach for the fourth-highest single game mark in Orange history. He also set marks for most three-pointers and points in a game at PNC Arena. His 9-of-10 from deep tied an SU record and also set a record for three-point percentage among players attempting nine or more three-pointers in an ACC game. Gillon also finished one assist shy of his third double-double of the year.
Andrew White III tossed in three triples of his own as he piled up 28 points in the game and also had four steals. Tyler Lydon had a trio of treys, as well, as he finished the night with 15 points.
Five different North Carolina State players scored in double figures, led by Maverick Rowan, who had 31 points and also drained eight triples. Abdul-Malik Abu had 19 points while Terry Henderson finished with 16. Dennis Smith Jr. posted his second triple-double, handing out 15 assists to go with his 13 points and 11 rebounds. Omer Yurtseven chipped in ten points.
Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome for a Saturday matinee against #9 Virginia. The Cavaliers (17-4, 7-2), who have won their last six conference games to move into second place in the ACC, last saw the Orange in the Elite Eight of last year’s NCAA Tournament. Syracuse rallied from 15 points down in the final 9:33 of that game to seize a spot in the Final Four.
While the Cavs are known for their defense, which has allowed the fewest points per game in the country, they are also an efficient offensive team, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and making 40 percent of their three-point shots on the season. Only three players average in double figures in scoring for Virginia, led by point guard London Perrantes, who averages 12.0 points per game.
Tip-off is set for noon Eastern with ESPN2 owning the telecast right. The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com.