A quick take on Syracuse’s 75-73 win over Wake Forest on Saturday evening at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: With 4 seconds left and the game tied at 73, Elijah Hughes took a contested 3-pointer at the top of the key that rimmed out. Jessie Edwards tipped the offensive rebound in the direction of Brycen Goodine, who layed it in to give Syracuse a two-point lead with 1.5 seconds left. Andrien White’s desperation heave at the buzzer didn’t come close, and the Orange escaped with a narrow win against a team that was tied for dead last in the ACC. The game appeared to be headed in a far different direction early in the second half, with the Orange leading by as many as 16 after starting the half on an 8-0 run. But Wake Forest roared back, and eventually took a 69-65 lead after Chaundee Brown’s jumper with 5:29 to go, setting up the wild finish.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse escaped what would’ve been a post-season deflating loss to the ACC’s worst team. The Orange already has a razor thin margin, and a loss to the 105th ranked NET team would’ve all but ended SU’s unlikely bid for an NCAA Tournament selection. Instead, the Orange was able to survive a night where they were whistled for 20 fouls, and needed to rely on two seldom used freshmen in key moments. Things were so dire that the lineup at the end of the game had Edwards at center, Hughes and Buddy Boeheim at the wing, and Joe Girard III and Goodine at the top of the zone.
HERO: Thrust into key minutes because of foul trouble, Edwards and Goodine played a critical roles, and may have earned more playing time as a result. For Edwards, he finished with a free throw for his first points since Dec. 18, two key rebounds (and a deflection for Goodine’s go-ahead basket that will go uncredited) and two steals. Goodine will be remembered for his buzzer-beating layup, but he also active in the zone and had an important defensive rebound with a minute left.
ZERO: The last time Syracuse had three players foul out was Nov. 28, 2018 against Ohio State when Frank Howard, Bourama Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj were all called for five. On Saturday, Syracuse tied that feat, with Sidibe, Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier all fouling out in the second half. Dolezaj’s was the most frustrating for Syracuse fans. Dolezaj, already saddled with four fouls, was called out of bounds by the officials, even though replays clearly showed that he had stayed in. When Dolezaj saw the replay on the big screen, he pointed upward, urging referee Clarence Armstrong to look. Instead, Armstrong doubled-down on his call, whistling Dolezaj for a technical foul and disqualifying him.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse finishes off its three-game homestand by hosting NC State on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. TV: ESPN2.