While not a normal combination for success, full-court pressure and Joe Girard III definitely worked out on Saturday, as that duo powered a 17-0 run that gave Syracuse (13-7, 6-3 ACC) a first half lead they never relinquished and an 80-63 victory at Georgia Tech (8-10, 1-7). Girard had three three-pointers and 13 total points in that burst as the Orange turned a nine-point Yellow Jacket lead into an eight-point edge.
Girard had arguably his best effort of the season for SU, finishing with 28 points, seven assists, six three-pointers, and five rebounds. Maliq Brown was efficient, dropping in 8-of-9 shots from the floor as he posted a personal-best 18 points to go with four steals. Jesse Edwards had 14 points and three blocks while Judah Mintz chipped in with 13 points and six assists.
Dallan Coleman paced Georgia Tech with 17 points, doing most of his damage by connecting on five three-pointers. Miles Kelly added three shots from long distance en route to 13 points and Jalon Moore added 11 points. Deivon Smith chipped in with nine points, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks.
The Yellow Jackets got out of the gate fast, knocking down 7-of-8 shots from the field for a 17-10 lead before five minutes were elapsed. Tech eventually added two more baskets a couple minutes later to take their biggest lead at 11 points.
Almost immediately after, Syracuse broke out of a 3-for-11 shooting start by making seven straight shots from the field. That hot shooting coincided with Jim Boeheim opting to use the full court press to speed up the proceedings.
Georgia Tech got a dunk on their first effort against the press when Edwards was caught well up court instead of protecting the backet. Boeheim replaced Edwards at the first opportunity after a Symir Torrence lay-up, which was the first basket in that 17-point barrage.
Girard took over from there, scoring 13 of the next 15 Orange points. He made a steal and went the length of the court for a lay-up, then added threes on back-to-back possessions and a turnaround jumper. Brown added a putback dunk, then Girard capped the streak with another trey for a 33-25 lead with a little over six minutes left in the opening half.
The Jackets twice clipped the margin to three, but SU held on for a 40-33 halftime lead. Syracuse pushed the lead out to double figures less than two-and-a-half minutes after the half, then added six more points after a GT three to push their advantage to 52-39.
The Orange held the hosts at bay for a couple more minutes, but eventually gave up an 8-2 Georgia Tech run that trimmed their lead to 59-54 with nine minutes to play. Girard got a jumper in the paint to stop the bleeding, then Mintz connected with Edwards for an alley-oop.
The Yellow Jackets got a three to pull within six, but Brown and Edwards put them to rest with three straight scores at the rim, the last a Brown dunk on the break for a 69-57 lead with just over five minutes on the clock. Tech never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way and Girard iced the contest with his last triple for a 15-point lead with just over two minutes remaining.