A quick glance at the box score wouldn’t suggest as much, but Syracuse Orange forward Robert Braswell made his impact felt in the team’s 74-69 win over old Big East rival Georgetown. A two-time high-jump champion in the state of South Carolina, Braswell’s leaping ability proved instrumental in preserving Syracuse’s lead.
The Hoyas were on a 15-6 second half run and had just trimmed Syracuse’s lead down to four when Braswell turned the tide in favor of the Orange. Georgetown’s Jamari Sibley corralled a rebound and threw a quick outlet pass ahead to GU star Jahvon Blair. Blair had leaked out ahead of the pack and looked as though he had a clear path to the tin to make it a one possession game with just over five minutes remaining.
Braswell erased the attempt, sending it hard off the glass. Joe Girard scooped up the rebound and passed ahead to Buddy Boeheim, who nailed a triple and gave Syracuse a three possession lead. Braswell’s block was ‘spectacular’ according to his head coach.
“That was the play of the game, could’ve saved the game really,” Jim Boeheim said. “We came right down and scored. That was a huge play.”
Buddy Boeheim referred to it as a momentum changer. He made the shot on the next possession, but Braswell made the block that warranted the open look in transition.
“They could’ve got it two points there, they were fighting back. Rob comes out of nowhere. He really got up and blocked it. It was a great play,” the younger Boeheim said.
Braswell finished his night with three points, two rebounds, one assist, three steals and one block. He took advantage of playing time in the last two games, also scoring a career-high 12 points on 4-5 shooting from distance against Pittsburgh. Braswell has shown potential as a defender too, although he struggles to rebound against bigger bodies at times. He’s adept at rotating in the 2-3 zone, disrupting passing lanes and closing out to shooters.
“He made two great steals down there that would’ve been layups if he wasn’t in there. He’s the best on our team of rotating back and rotating across and making those plays,” Jim Boeheim said.
Boeheim divulged that Braswell’s knees still bother him, but he’s playing through it as best he can. He redshirted last season with a pain in his shins.
Due to his reserved nature, teammates celebrate Braswell’s successes with added exuberance in an attempt to draw emotion of out him. After his big block Braswell simply trotted back to huddle as if he were only taking care of business.
“He’s a really quiet kid, obviously a really nice kid,” Joe Girard said. “Everybody’s always there for him. He’s put in a lot of work. We’re just really happy for him, he’s finally stepping up and making big plays. Whether its making shots or making that block.”
Braswell has been used sparingly this season as the redshirt sophomore struggled to shoot the ball in the early going. With pauses in play added to the difficulty of being a shooter off the bench, Braswell was 0-12 from deep in through his first five games. He’s found a groove over the last two games however, shooting 5-7 from distance.
Chalk up another big block for this Syracuse team. The Orange also benefited from Alan Griffin’s rejection against Buffalo which allowed the game to go into overtime, resulting in a Syracuse win.