Normally we only have three takeaways following Syracuse Orange basketball games. But today, Syracuse pulled out a 72-71 edge over Georgetown from the Carrier Dome and this one was so hectic that we couldn’t just pluck three things to takeaway. Syracuse’s awful first half offense? Tyus Battle hitting another game-winner? Dolezaj doing Doley things? Mac McClung — cousins with Riff Raff — coming in and hitting shots while Greg Malinowski checks the box as random guy who makes threes against the 2-3 zone?
Okay, just kidding on that last one. Georgetown still sucks. Let’s stick to Syracuse.
Tyus Battle is that boy for real
Hard to start anywhere else. Down one point with just over 10 seconds remaining, Tyus Battle took the ball in the backcourt, dribbled over the timeline to just inside the three-point line and nailed the game-winning jumper for Syracuse with less than three seconds left on the timer. Clockwork Orange.
Battle will go down as one of the most beloved Syracuse players of all-time. He’s proven once again to be a clutch shot maker, something that started from his freshman year at Clemson when he nailed a game-winning three on the road. The clutch factor continued into a plethora of games in his sophomore season and has reemerged into this one with his first — and probably not last — game-winning shot of the 2018-19 year.
Also, great shots by Getty here with #BattleFace before and after his big shot as well as his custom Kyrie 4s for this game.
Syracuse completes another comeback
Perhaps you’ve heard it all before. But Syracuse was down double-digits at the half and came back in the second to edge out a win. Not only did Syracuse stay true to form by intentionally sandbagging the race, purposely taking threes in the first half and playing with your emotions on the offensive end as they made it look like they couldn’t find water if it fell out of a boat. But all Syracuse did was laugh about it the entire time.
Then, when Syracuse knew that it was going to come back, Cardiac ‘Cuse once again came through as Battle knocked in the aforementioned game-winning shot and had the last laugh.
What? Have you not been paying attention this whole time?
Syracuse still struggles from distance
Jokes aside, Syracuse was pretty awful in the first half from deep. The Orange chucked up enough bricks to build new bathrooms in the Carrier Dome from scratch to assuage you of your trough-utilizing frustrations.
The Orange as a collective were able to narrow the shooting gap in the second as Battle and Elijah Hughes got going while Oshae Brisset and Jalen Carey each knocked down a long-ball, too. SU finished 8-28 from three which is just 28.6 percent. Ideally, you’d like for the low bar to be around 33.3 percent.
Tale of two 3lijahs
As mentioned, Elijah Hughes was able to get hot in the second half when he transformed into his alter ego 3lijah Hugh3s. The Beacon native shot just 1-for-4 from distance in the first half but finished the game 4-for-10. He had six helpful rebounds in the game and a huge block in the second half.
Hughes has shown he can ball — he’s an absolute dog out there at times. If he finds a way to be just a tad more consistent we’re looking at a very very good college basketball player.
You love Marek Dolezaj
When Marek Dolezaj checked into the game for the first time the Carrier Dome lit up with applause. While he didn’t do anything that will pop up off the stat sheet and is operating in a bit of a rotation squeeze, he had arguably the biggest play of the game when he drew a charge with just over 10 seconds left in the game. Syracuse was still trailing by one at that point and it ultimately gave Battle the chance to hit the game-winning bucket.
Without Dolezaj’s charge, that last offensive play of the game for Syracuse probably becomes more difficult.
Point guard situation
Frank Howard fouled out of the game (on a couple nickel-dimers to be fair) and Jalen Carey earned the lion’s share of minutes at the point. Howard still managed decent numbers with 4 points, 4 (!) steals, 3 assists and 2 rebounds but Syracuse could really use him healthy and in the game for the majority of its time. He doesn’t have much control over the former but for the latter, he’ll have to avoid foul trouble. This is the second game he’s been DQ’d with fouls as he fouled out against Ohio State to boot.
Carey struggled mostly throughout but he had a big sequence that included knocking down a clutch three-pointer late in the game and following that up with a block on the other end.
Who thought this was the 1980s?
The weirdest moment of the game occurred in the second half. No, not Patrick Ewing giving the thumbs down signal or Laphonso Ellis proclaiming that Syracuse’s biggest problem on offense was not being able to contain Mac McClung.
But somebody thought it was the mid-80s and threw something onto the court. I’m sure whoever it was read that piece in the DO this week about a student throwing an orange at the backboard when Patrick Ewing was at the free-throw line in 1985 and thought it’d be cool to do something similar.
But it wasn’t. That’s just poor taste. We have enough people firing shots Syracuse’s way. No need to arm them with any more ammunition.
This rivalry needs to continue
Ceteris Paribas, this rivalry should continue. That’ll be difficult though with the ACC moving to 20 league games starting next season. I’d contest that getting this game on the schedule in the non-conference is better than any other run of the mill mid-major, but Georgetown will be tricky to get back on the calendar. Maybe others can get creative with all the rules surrounding early season tournaments or maybe something can be worked out that doesn’t include a home-and-home.
What do you suggest to keep the rivalry afloat, even if its best days are behind it?