It was the return of the nooner today as Syracuse took on Georgia Tech at 12 from the Carrier Dome and boy did it ever feel like a nooner. The game got off a to molasses-in-January paced start that eventually picked up speed as the game progressed.
Dajuan Coleman picked up two quick fouls but Jim Boeheim elected to leave the junior big man in. It would pay dividends as Coleman scored nine first half points without picking up another foul the rest of the half.
Frank Howard played extended minutes and took advantage by dishing out four helpers in the first half, including this sweet dime:
With Syracuse leading 29-22 in the first, the Orange looked as if it would separation itself from the Yellow Jackets but a 7-0 Georgia Tech run tied the game. Tyler Lydon then hit a key triple to put Syracuse back up 32-29 but a 6-0 run by Georgia Tech gave them the lead. On the last possession of the half Lydon connected on yet another vital triple to tie the game at 35 all at the break.
In the second half Syracuse scored on its first two possessions -- fans quickly went berserk when Michael Gbinije was hit in the face on a fast break and no foul was called. Gbinije was taken out of the game momentarily but when he returned he came back with alacrity; Silent G knocked down a three on his first possession back.
The game went back and forth for much of the second half. Down four with 4:49 to play, Howard found Malachi Richardson on the opposite wing. Richardson knocked down a three that cut Georgia Tech's lead to one and gave Howard a career high six assists.
Later with 2:38 to play Richardson drove the lane, got fouled and finished the play for two which tied the game at 55. On the ensuing play Gbinije forced a turnover and got fouled on the break. He knocked down two clutch free throws to give Syracuse a 57-55 lead. Richardson then stole the ball on the next play, got fouled and went to the line where he knocked down the first and missed the second.
Up by three with 10.2 seconds left, Cooney fouled Marcus Georges-Hunt who made the first, missed the second (A theme is starting to develop here). The ball was loose, and Gbinije got whistled for a foul. Again, the Yellow Jackets made one of two and Richardson rebounded and was fouled with 2.8 seconds to go. He made both and Georgia Tech threw a heave down court. Adam Smith ended up with the ball and the shot fell just short, bouncing off the front rim. Syracuse had escaped with a 60-57 victory.
Syracuse will now host Virginia Tech on Tuesday, playing its third game in six days. That game is scheduled for an 8:00 tip and can be streamed on ESPN3.