John Gillon, at the buzzer.
What a shot and what a second-half performance for the graduate transfer on Wednesday evening.
“We go as John Gillon goes,” Jim Boeheim said after the game.
Boeheim’s starting point guard went for 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe.
He also added six assists and didn’t commit a single turnover in the 78-75 win.
Gillon scored 19 of his 26 points in the second half, and hit countless shots down the stretch for the Orange.
Gillon, who has only been at Syracuse for seven months, has taken his fair share of criticism throughout the season. He’s responded on Twitter to fans who have trashed him, his game, his height and so on.
But he’s also been the most loved player at times this season. Like when he scored a career-high 43 points in Syracuse’s overtime victory over North Carolina State. Or right now, after his incredible game against 10th-ranked Duke.
But tonight puts Gillon’s status on a different level. It doesn’t matter what he does from here on out — he’ll be loved forever by Syracuse fans. And rightfully so.
To beat the marquee team of the ACC, in a game that the Orange so desperately needed — nothing compares to this. Even if Gillon doesn’t play another minute this season, or score another point, he’ll always be remembered for this game, this second-half performance and this shot.
Duke’s defenders had a difficult time keeping the shifty 5-foot-9 point guard out of the lane in the second half. He was able to get to the basket with ease, convert at the free throw line and also hit from distance.
At halftime, with the Orange trailing, everyone knew someone had to step up. Whether that was Tyus Battle, Andrew White, Gillon or Tyler Lydon — it had to be someone.
And tonight, it was John Gillon.
The Orange, now 17-12 (9-7), travel to No. 8 Louisville on Sunday for a 2 p.m. tip-off with the Cardinals.
But thanks to tonight, Sunday isn’t a must-win — and the Orange can finally take a deep breath moving forward.