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Boeheim’s Army 69, Team 23 67: Keifer Sykes wins TBT for Syracuse alumni

Boeheim’s Army walks away from The Basketball Tournament as champions for the first time.

Keifer Sykes drains the game-winner for Boeheim’s Army
Ben Solomon Photography

It took seven years in The Basketball Tournament, but Boeheim’s Army is finally victorious. The group of Syracuse Orange basketball alumni defeated Team 23 by a final score of 69-67 to win the $1 million prize with Jim Boeheim in attendance. Former Wisconsin-Green Bay guard Keifer Sykes made the game-winning three for Boeheim’s Army with the Elam Ending in effect.

Boeheim’s Army head coach Jeremy Pope went with the same starting lineup of the previous four games, giving the nod to Tyrese Rice, DeAndre Kane, Malachi Richardson, DJ Kennedy and Chris McCullough.

Both teams traded baskets to open the game in what would be a competitive first half. Kane went down with an injury early for Boeheim’s Army. He went to the locker room midway through the first quarter and wouldn’t return to the game.

Eric Devendorf checked in early off the bench and made his presence felt right away by knocking down an open triple from the left wing. Pope went deep into his bench as all ten players on the roster earned time in the first nine minutes. A balanced attack gave Boeheim’s Army a slight 18-17 edge after the first quarter.

With Kane sidelined, Andrew White earned extended minutes and made the most of his time with five points and two rebounds in five minutes. Neither team could take control of the game so coaches made adjustments. Boeheim’s Army switched to the zone in the second quarter, but to little avail. The team went back to man-to-man to close out the half.

Nine players scored for Boeheim’s Army and the group of Syracuse players went into the half leading 34-33.

Ben Solomon Photography

Sykes started in place of Kane to open the second half. In the early going, Richardson struggled to make shots and Team 23 took advantage, jumping out to its largest lead at 40-35. The point guards on the army brought their team back as Sykes scored to beat the shot clock and Rice hit a pull up triple, but Team 23 once again brought its lead back up to five. Sykes connected on an important triple to get it back to two with a minute left in the third, but a pair of free throws gave Team 23 a 54-50 lead going into the fourth.

Team 23 took a 58-52 lead early in the fourth quarter but Boeehim’s Army went on on a 7-0 run with a Sykes three point play and a pull up jumper followed by a McCullough finish inside to take the lead.

After a pair of mistakes by both teams under the four minute mark, Boeheim’s Army gained possession and called timeout with a 61-60 lead. The Elam Ending was set with a target score of 69.

Sykes was fouled on a three to start the Elam Ending portion of the game. He made all three to make it 64-60. Eric Griffin then scored for Team 23 to make it 64-62. Then DJ Kennedy had a put-back to put Boeheim’s Army up 66-62, but Griffin came back down and responded with a triple to make it 66-65. Eric Washington made two free throws to give Team 23 the lead 67-66.

After a McCullough missed three to potentially win the game that rimmed out and a missed shot by Team 23, Keifer Sykes drained a three-point shot to win it for Boeheim’s Army.

Jim Boeheim and Eric Devendorf share a moment after Boeheim’s Army wins the TBT title
Ben Solomon Photography

Final Stats

Sykes led Boeheim’s Army in scoring with 21 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Kennedy had 11 points and 8 rebounds. McCullough finished with 9 points and 9 rebounds.

Boeheim’s Army shot 23-60 (38%) from the floor and 7-25 (28%) from deep. Team 23 shot 25-58 from the floor (43%) and 6-20 (30%) from range. Boeheim’s Army won the rebounding battle 39-33.