CORAL GABLES, Fla. — In the final conference game of the 2019-20 regular season, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell in overtime at Miami by a final score of 69-65.
In spite of the loss, Syracuse fans flooded the Watsco center with vintage Syracuse jerseys and sweatshirts. In the bowels of the arena, one Miami staff member said to another, “A lot of ‘Cuse fans, man,” in a mildly surprised tone.
Miami was without junior guard Chris Lykes, who leads the Hurricanes in scoring, steals and assists.
After the game commenced, Marek Dolezaj scored two straight buckets in the paint on a pair of floaters to get things started for Syracuse. Hughes joined in the scoring fold thereafter. The redshirt junior matched Dolezaj’s quick four points; then his 3-ball gave him seven and Syracuse an early 13-9 lead.
All five starters played extended minutes for Jim Boeheim as the head coach didn’t turn to his bench until 12 minutes in. Howard Washington and Quincy Guerrier came in for Joe Girard and Bourama Sidibe. With Sidibe going to the bench for Guerrier, Marek Dolezaj moved to the center spot and took advantage of his quickness on the offensive end. He scored another pair of buckets in the paint — this time on a pair of spin moves — to keep Syracuse close.
A Buddy Boeheim triple just prior to the break closed the gap, but Miami took a 26-24 lead into the intermission. But just prior to the half, Hughes took a hard fall and would not return.
Half: Syracuse trials Miami 26-24 in a snoozer. Buddy Boeheim’s 3 right before the break was helpful — believe that was SU’s first made basket in the final 30 seconds before halftime all season.— Matthew Gutierrez (@MatthewGut21) March 7, 2020
As the second half got underway, Hughes sat on the sideline with his warm-ups on and his hood over his head. Guerrier started the second half in his place.
With Hughes sidelined, Sidibe worked hard on the glass, but he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and was forced to sit. Jesse Edwards replaced him and gave Syracuse some solid minutes from the center spot, including two made free throws.
Guerrier also did well in the place of Hughes by getting on the offensive glass and finishing shots around the rim. He created second chance opportunities for himself without needing the ball in his hands to produce.
As the second half continued on, Syracuse fans cheered loudly with every Syracuse bucket. Chants of ‘Let’s go Orange!’ echoed around the arena for the second straight away game.
Down the stretch, both teams jockeyed for the lead. Vasiljevic made crucial 3s for Miami in crunch time. The Orange led for most of the second half, but Miami’s Rodney Miller tied the game up at 44 with a dunk. Joe Girard answered with a triple for Syracuse for a 47-44 lead, but Isaiah Wong answered with a three of his own to tie the game back up at 47.
Both teams traded buckets but a Vasiljevic triple with just under two minutes left gave Miami a 52-50 lead. On the next Syracuse possession, Guerrier fed Dolezaj underneath, who drew a foul and made two big free throws to tie the game at 52.
Miami responded with a dunk from Sam Waardenburg though and Syracuse called timeout with 58 seconds left. Out of the timeout, Buddy Boeheim had a look from three but it wouldn’t go down. Miami took it the other way and Isaiah Wong drove the lane, drawing Sidibe’s fifth foul. He made both free throws.
Joe Girard drove quickly the other way and scored on a layup with 10 seconds left to cut into the lead. Trailing by two, Syracuse fouled Waardenburg who missed the front end of a one and one. Girard quickly dribbled up court, crossed over the his left with Vasiljevic on him and buried a free throw line jumper to send the game into overtime.
In extra time, Miami scored the first four points but Syracuse was able to draw fouls and score from the charity stripe. Buddy Boeheim made two while Guerrier and Edwards each split a pair.
Miami kept the lead throughout the overtime period, but Syracuse still fought to keep the game within a single possession. The Orange pressed to some avail and forced a travel on Wong, but Syracuse didn’t have enough in overtime to get the win.
Miami sealed it from the free throw line by going 4-4 late thanks to Kam McGusty and Vasiljevic.
Syracuse will now get ready for the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. The Orange will play on Wednesday night as the No. 6 seed.