A quick take on Syracuse’s 79-72 win against Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: After a lackluster first half that saw Syracuse enter halftime down 38-27, Joe Girard III started the Orange in the second half with a pair of 3-pointers as part of an 8-0 run to pull SU within 40-37. A 7-0 run capped by a Girard layup with 8:23 left gave the Orange a 54-51 lead, and Syracuse would lead the rest of the way. The game was put completely out of reach by a pair of Elijah Hughes free throws that made it 72-62 with 1:25 remaining. It was a remarkable recovery for the Orange, who shot just 7-26 in the first half, and could get little going outside of 10 points from Hughes.
ANALYSIS: With the NCAA Tournament mostly a pipe dream at this point of the season, the Orange headed into Saturday afternoon in need of two wins to preserve its NIT eligibility and guarantee that head coach Jim Boeheim would not have his first ever losing regular season. Syracuse is now halfway to that goal with the win over Georgia Tech. Syracuse is now 15-12 on the season and an even 8-8 in ACC play, which ties them for fifth place in conference standings with NC State (who lost earlier to Florida State). With games left at Pitt, home against last place North Carolina, at Boston college and Miami, plus one additional ACC Tournament game, the odds are certainly in SU’s favor.
HERO: Marek Dolezaj’s halftime stat line looked like this: 4 points (0-2 shooting from the field) and 2 rebounds. His end stats? 20 points and five rebounds. He was one of four Orange (Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and Girard) in double figures. Moses Wright scored a career-high 33 to lead Georgia Tech.
ZERO: Head coach Jim Boeheim barely used his bench, getting a combined five points of production. Quincy Guerrier, SU’s only true bench presence, had more fouls (4) than points (3).
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Pittsburgh. TV: ACCN.