Syracuse 75, Wake Forest 73 – Three takeaways

Jim Boeheim
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim looks on from the sidelines. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

It wasn’t always pretty nor was it easy but Syracuse found themselves back in the win column after Saturday’s nerve racking 75-73 win. Here are three takeaways from SU’s 14th win on the season:

GOODINE HITS GAME WINNER

Raise your hand if you had freshmen Brycen Goodine playing hero in Syracuse’s win over the Demon Deacons prior to the game?

Yes, we didn’t think so either.

And yet that’s exactly what happened with 4 seconds left in the game at the score tied at 73.

Elijah Hughes pulled up for a contested 3-pointer at the top of the key which clanked off the right side of the rim. After Jessie Edwards (more on him below) tipped it to Goodine, he laid in the basket with 1.5 seconds left to give the Orange a two-point lead.

“We win the game on Jesse [Edwards] getting the ball to Brycen [Goodine] and Brycen getting it into the basket,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “That was a heck of a play, two freshmen who don’t play much.”

After starting the season in the rotation, Goodine has been mostly relegated to the bench, and did not appear in SU’s last two games. But Boeheim elected to go with Goodine and it paid immediate dividends.

“He’s been good in practice and he’s athletic,” Boeheim said. “He rebounds well and he’s a good defender out in front.”

Goodine said after the game that it was his first game-winner at any level.

“I didn’t know if it was going to go in,” Goodine said. “It rolled around for a second. I couldn’t really see the ball but I could see the hoop.”

EDWARDS SHINES AS WELL

Goodine wasn’t the only freshman to make an impact.

After Marek Dolezaj fouled out with five minutes to go, Syracuse was forced to turn to Edwards with all of its other big men (Bourama Sidibe, Quincy Guerrier) fouled out.

But Edwards more than admirably filled in, scoring his first points since Dec. 18 on a free throw, and added two rebounds and two steals. He also created the final play for Goodine, tipping him the offensive rebound for the game-winning shot.

» Related: Syracuse defeats Wake Forest; still fourth in ACC

“He was a little more aggressive,” Boeheim said. “He went up and got the ball. He definitely has some skills that he can use to help us and he helped us tonight.”

Things looked so bleak that the lineup in the final five minutes featured Edwards in the middle, Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Huhges at the wings, and Joe Girard III and Goodine up top.

“You have to admire the group that was on the court at the end for the last four minutes to be able to win that game,” Boeheim said. “It was one of our more amazing wins.”

FOUL TROUBLE NEARLY FOILS ORANGE

Syracuse was in that position to begin with because three of its top front court players, Sidibe, Guerrier and Dolezaj fouled out.

Dolezaj was the last of the trio to foul out, being assessed with a technical foul for (correctly) arguing he had not been out of bounds. Dolezaj pointed to the replay monitor to plead his case to referee Clarence Armstrong, who wasted no time in assessing his fifth and final foul.

It was no coincidence that after Dolezaj fouled out, Wake Forest took its biggest lead of the game, 69-65 with 5:29 to go. Before this, the Demon Deacons hadn’t held a lead since early on in the first when it was 4-2 in favor of Wake Forest.

“Bourama is committing fouls we can’t have him commit,” Boeheim said. “He’s going to commit some but he cant commit the foolish ones. Marek is still picking up 2 fouls every game that by this stage of the year we should have learned you can’t do that.”

But even with an awkward lineup playing the final five minutes, the Orange managed to come away with a win thanks to a confluence of factors. Aside from Goodine’s heroics, Buddy Boeheim also played a key role, helping inside on Andrien White to create a turnover.

That led to a fast break that Buddy finished with a layup to give the Orange a 71-70 lead. Buddy would again make a critical defensive play, coming up with a steal with 36 seconds left that led to two free throws from Elijah Hughes.

“For us to win this game without those three guys in there, and we weren’t up, we were down, is amazing to me and the crowd was a big part of that,” Boeheim said. “Our defense made some plays that we can’t make with the big guys in there, so tremendous effort.”

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