NEW YORK — Syracuse center Baye Moussa Keita will be taking on a new role going forward.
“I told him he’s going to shoot the technicals from now on the rest of the year,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said, drawing more than a few laughs in his post game press conference.
Far from an offensive juggernaut, Keita came into Friday night’s Big East Tournament semifinal game against Georgetown as a 48 percent free throw shooter. But Keita made all seven of his shot from the line—four in the final two minutes of regulation with the game in the balance—as Syracuse advanced to the finals with a 58-55 overtime win.
It was a career night for the junior center, who notched 13 points and 8 rebounds.
“DC (DaJuan Coleman) was just telling me, ‘Just picture the ball going in,'” Keita said. “Nick (Resavy) was telling me to hold my follow through. They know I can make those free throws, so just told me to go through my routine.”
“You could see the confidence in his eyes,” forward CJ Fair said. “He helped us win the game.”
Keita was also the beneficiary of a defensive strategy that Georgetown was employing on point guard Michael Carter-Williams. When Carter-Williams and Keita would run a pick-and-roll, the player guarding Keita would stay with Carter-Williams for a split-second longer than usual, attempting to cut off any driving lanes.
Twice, Keita was left open in the paint for easy scores.
“Sometimes the defense leaves him open,” Carter-Williams said. “I don’t know why. He’s a great finisher.”
Keita’s last bucket of the game came in overtime when he put back a Carter-Williams layup to give SU a four point lead, and send the heavily pro-Orange crowd into a frenzy.
His performance more than made up for starting center Rakeem Christmas, who went scoreless and had two fouls in four minutes.
“Our other center (Christmas) was sleeping tonight,” Boeheim said. “We couldn’t wake him up to get out there to play, so it was important that Baye stepped up.”