Remember last March when the Syracuse Orange were trailing Virginia by 16 points in the second half of the Elite Eight?
Wednesday’s game resembled that in many ways. Unlike last season, the Orange didn’t have Malachi Richardson — a sharpshooting freshman — to dig them out of the hole.
But instead, SU had John Gillon - a fifth-year graduate student who went for a night that will live in Syracuse basketball history.
The 6-foot point guard from Houston went off for a career-high 43 points, and outscored NC State, 20-10 in the final 6:40 of regulation. Twenty-three of his points came in the second half, along with five assists.
After leading by as many as eight points in the first half, the Orange took a three-point lead into halftime against the Wolfpack. After a sluggish start to the second half, SU got down by 16 points with 8:44 to go. Gillon was subbed in for Frank Howard with 8:33 to go, and the game changed.
Syracuse went on a 12-0 run from 6:40-5:10 in the second half, which was led by nine points from Gillon and three from Tyler Lydon, who was assisted by Gillon.
NC State got its lead back to four, but four straight free throws from Gillon, and then a game-tying three-pointer with one second left sent the game to overtime.
From there, Andrew White took over. He went 3-for-3 in the lone overtime period, and scored nine points. The Orange didn’t miss a shot in overtime, going 3-for-3 from the field, 1-of-1 from three and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
The Orange outscored the Wolfpack, 13-6, to earn its first road victory of the season.
Gillon channeled his inner-Malachi Richardson on Wednesday, and his 43-point performance was exactly what the Orange needed to improve its win streak to three games.
It doesn’t get any easier, though.
Syracuse, now 14-9 on the season, hosts No. 9 Virginia on Saturday.