With eight seconds remaining and the Syracuse Orange holding onto a 78-76 lead, freshman Taurean Thompson grabbed a missed Wake Forest Demon Deacons free throw and was fouled.
He went to the line for two free throws, and drained them both. SU then led 80-76 — giving Thompson the unofficial save.
“I got off to a slow start,” Thompson said. “Coach told me he’s giving me my last chance to start producing. So I couldn’t let that opportunity go.”
Thompson finished with 18 points, which tied his second-highest scoring performance of the year. His season-high came against Boston University, where the 6-foot-10 forward scored 22 points.
Time after time, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has praised Thompson’s offense while critiquing his defensive efforts. For those who didn’t watch the game, Thompson still struggled defensively, but his offense kept him on the floor.
“It was intense,” Thompson said of his first close ACC game down the stretch. “These types of games I love. I’m just glad we got that win.”
He only grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes, but again — Jim Boeheim needed his offense in there. And offense is what he got.
Thompson is now averaging 8.5 points per game, which is fourth-best on the team.
With 10:37 left in the game, Thompson checked in for senior Tyler Roberson. And then he made his mark.
He scored nine points in the final eight-plus minutes, and (along with a clutch effort by Andrew White III) led his team to a much-needed victory.
He was 6-of-8 in the second half, and scored 16 of his 18 points in the latter 20 minutes.
And as for the future, it looks bright. And Thompson is believing in this team.
“It shows what we’re capable of in the future,” he said with a smile after the game. “I know this isn’t our ceiling. We can keep getting better and better from this. WE just have to keep building from this and we’ll be fine.”
Defensively, Thompson has a ton of work to do. But offensively, he’s as skilled as any freshman big man in the country. And he continues to prove that.