SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team completed the second-largest comeback in ACC history when it surmounted a 24-point deficit in its come from behind victory over Colgate, 79-75. The largest comeback win in the league was 25 points by Florida State in 2023. Naheem McLeod played on both teams.
The 24-point deficit is believed to be the largest comeback win in program history. The largest known comeback in Syracuse history was a 20 point come from behind victory against Notre Dame in 2021.
“I’m proud of these guys, man. They could’ve folded but they didn’t,” Adrian Autry said in his opening remarks. “It was just one of those things. They didn’t want to lose.”
Asked if he knew the comeback was of historical significance, Judah Mintz answered logically.
“Syracuse is not usually down 24. Most people don’t come back and win from 24 (down),” Mintz said.
In order to come from behind, Syracuse went to its press that has bailed the team out of large deficits in the past. At times it had worked (2016 Virginia). Other times, it hasn’t (2016 North Carolina).
Just three games into the Autry era, the head coach has had to adjust his defensive strategy to get in the win column. In the first game he had to go 2-3 zone to protect Mintz with four fouls. In his third game he had to go full court press to comeback.
“We just kept fighting. That’s all it is,” Chris Bell said.
At the half, Autry told his team not to worry about the score. Instead he instructed his team to just keep playing. They could evaluate and analyze the game once it was over. The goal was to break the game into smaller parts and play in four minute segments in between media timeouts.
“Keep playing. Keep fighting,” Mintz said of Autry’s message at the half. “We knew we might be in this situation down at halftime. Just keep fighting, we have a lot of depth. We just kept wearing them down.”
But Syracuse still came out flat to start the second half as Colgate went on a quick 6-0 run out of the gate.
It was a night where the Syracuse crowd offered both praise and criticism, notably with some jeers when Syracuse failed to hit outside shots. When the Orange went down by 20 early in the second half, the boos came out.
“I mean we were down 20 to Colgate,” Mintz said. “So I feel like if I was a fan in the stands I might be (booing) too.”
Syracuse worked the deficit to a “manageable number” by the eight minute mark. For the game, Syracuse was able to force Colgate into 19 turnovers, to which the Orange scored 20 points off of.
“Just making them uncomfortable. We have bigger players, bigger guards I would say. Longer wingspans. Making them play over us,” Mintz said. “Making it harder for them to initiate their offense. Sometimes they just threw it right to us.”
Eventually, Syracuse competed to get the game within two possessions on a Mintz layup. Justin Taylor made a key triple with 3:16 to play, setting up a JJ Starling layup that made it a one possession game. Bell then made the game-tying three with 1:38 to go and Starling’s free throws finally gave Syracuse the lead for good. Maliq Brown’s key steal and slam gave the team the cushion it needed to close out — along with his two made free throws.
“We had to keep chopping wood,” Autry said. “That’s what we did.”