A quick take on Syracuse’s strong second half, then late scare, in its 75-66 win against N.C. State on Saturday afternoon, the Dome finale for the 2015-16 season played in front of a crowd of 27,141:
WHAT HAPPENED: On an day in which Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije and reserve Christian White were saluted during the annual senior day ceremonies, Gbinije stood out with a standing ovation performance in leading Syracuse (19-10, 9-7) closer to a return to the NCAA Tournament, but it came only after holding off a late NCSU (14-15, 4-12) surge which cut the lead to five with 5:00 to play.
ANALYSIS: Baffling the Wolfpack while the game was back and forth early into the second half, the SU zone was active in not only containing the ACC’s leading scorer, ‘Pack guard Cat Barber, but leading to transition game scoring, off-setting an Orange offense that struggled at points throughout both halves. Barber finished with 15 points, and he averaged 23.6 coming in, while Malachi Richardson (13) and Tyler Lydon (11) were the only other double figure scorers for the ‘Cuse. But the man of the day was Mr. Gbinije…
HERO: It will be a lifetime memory for the personable, yet reserved Gbinije on his Senior Day at the Dome with his parents on hand, he put on the consummate statistical display with eight key three point baskets, finishing with a career high 34 points, six assists, four rebounds and even three blocks, likely securing a first team all conference selection when voting commences next week.
ZERO: On the flip side to Gbinije’s sweet afternoon was fellow backcourt mate Cooney’s struggles in his Dome farewell. From an air ball on his first three-point attempt to a game long cold streak of finishing 0-6 beyond the arc and just 1-8 from the field, Cooney’s overall program contributions were overshadowed by his fellow fifth year player.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse begins the final week of the regular season appearing in the last ACC Big Monday game against current No. 6/7 ranked North Carolina (23-5, 12-3) on Feb. 29. SU has won only one game all-time in the Dean E. Smith Center, a 1988 opening round NCAA victory against North Carolina A&T. The ‘Cuse is 0-1 vs. the Tar Heels there, and UNC held off SU 84-73 at the Dome on Jan. 9, Boeheim’s return to the bench from his NCAA suspension. Carolina was set to play at Virginia later Saturday. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPN.