The Syracuse Orange returned home from its two game ACC road trip to take on the Clemson Tigers tonight in search of a win. Clemson came to the Dome off a win against Florida State and carried that momentum into Syracuse, beating Mike Hopkins' squad 74-73 (OT) in his final game as interim head coach.
Clemson came out and played stifling defense as Syracuse ran its offense without being able to generate any open shots. As a result the Orange found itself forcing the issue on offense with the shot clock winding down, only scoring 25 points in the first half. Clemson went into the half with a 33-25 lead.
Syracuse was able to cut into Clemson's lead in the second half but every time Syracuse chipped away Clemson was able to respond until Michael Gbinije connected on a three to give Syracuse a 51-50 lead with 5:40 remaining.
With less than a minute to go in the game Malachi Richardson knocked down a tough three in the corner with the shot clock nearing zero to increase Syracuse's lead to 4. Clemson would then make two free throws on the next possession and Richardson responded with a strong drive to the rim to draw a foul. He'd make the first and miss the second leaving Syracuse with a three point lead.
Clemson would then make a three on the ensuing possession with 5 seconds left to tie the game. Gbinije pushed the ball up the floor and took a deep three that didn't come close and the game headed to overtime.
Down by five with less than 30 seconds left, Tyler Lydon found Trevor Cooney in the corner for a clutch triple that cut the lead to two.
Syracuse fouled on the next play and Clemson would make both free throws. Lydon followed Cooney up with a three of his own to cut the lead back to one.
Cooney then stole Clemson's inbounds pass on the next play and found himself open on the wing after a scrum. Trailing by one, Cooney fired from the right wing only to have his shot come up short and sail out of bounds off Syracuse. At that point the game was over. Clemson threw the ball down court and walked out of the Carrier Dome with a win.
Syracuse was close but that doesn't cut it in the ACC. In the post-game press conference Mike Hopkins said, "Close isn't good enough for Syracuse Basketball. Close isn't good enough and never will be."
Jim Boeheim will return to coach Syracuse tomorrow in practice. Syracuse welcomes the sixth ranked North Carolina Tarheels on Saturday at 8 p.m. That game will air on ESPN.