A ranked win in the Dome? In 2023? You better believe it!
The Syracuse Orange got hot heading into halftime and carried that momentum the rest of the way, narrowly edging out the NC State Wolfpack 75-72 and keeping the season alive. Every Syracuse starter played the majority of this game and scored double-digit points in a down-to-the-wire finish.
Some good ball movement led to Chris Bell hitting a mid-range jumper for the first points of the game. After some misses, Joe Girard followed that up with the first trifecta of the night. The early back-and-forth gave way to an 11-0 NC State run and a 19-10 Syracuse deficit.
SU soon counterattacked thanks to a trio of booming dunks, the first two coming courtesy of Maliq Brown and the third being Bell ringing the rim:
The later two slams were part of an 8-0 run for the home squad that gave them the lead back. Bell put up four more to end the half and put Syracuse in front 35-31 at halftime.
After another quiet first half with only four points, Judah Mintz came alive in the later 20. He scored the first points of the second half and followed that up with a three-point play to extend the Orange lead to 45-39.
“We knew they were gonna try to make a push of their own in the second half, but I just told our guys, ‘We’re gonna make our own push,’” Mintz said.
If you were fortunate enough to be in attendance, you truly got to see a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon: Jesse Edwards draining one from the arc.
Jesse Edwards' first career 3-point attempt!— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 15, 2023
“If you don’t win the game when that happens, then something’s wrong.” Head Coach Jim Boeheim said with a grin after the game.
“For me, you know, it’s just daily business,” Edwards said with a country-mile smile. “I saw one second on the clock, so I pulled it.”
“The crowd went crazy for that. You never know if the one prayer is gonna go in, but it felt great.”
Shortly afterwards, Jesse got a pass out to Mintz on the perimeter, who then also drained a wide-open three. And if that wasn’t enough, the Dutchman also forced the +1 on his own dunk in what would be the eventual game winner.
Judah drew a foul with 24 seconds to go to force the double-bonus and converted both free throws, bringing him up to a team-leading 20 points on the evening. A Jarkel Joiner miss from distance sealed the deal in a huge victory for the Orange. It goes into the Q2 column for now but could potentially become a Quad 1 victory if the Wolfpack play well down the stretch.
“Today, we made the plays at the end that you have to make to win,” Boeheim said.
It’s worth mentioning that the Wolfpack were only 9/34 from deep and that the Orange converted 16/17 tries at the line.
Although he wasn’t the scoring leader, I have to give Jesse player of the game honors. His final statline reads: 18 points, 16 rebounds (12 defensive), two blocks, two steals, and an assist. He also guarded D.J. Burns well and even forced the opposing big to foul out. This was undoubtedly one of the most complete games of his career.
“This was definitely really important, to get this win.” Edwards said. “It’s time to really show everybody what we can do.”
Joe Girard had 14 points, Bell had 11, and Brown finished with 10 in an impressive showing by the Orange offense. Coach Boeheim mentioned Bell’s improved physicality as a reason for his increased minutes.
When Bell was asked about what’s changed in his approach, he replied “Just knowing I can go down there and battle with those big guys. I’ve been watching a lot of Cole Swider stuff, to be honest.”
‘Cuse hosts Duke Saturday at 6 in another tough matchup. It will be without Coach K on the opposing sideline, but JAB isn’t thinking about that part.
“I worry about the players. I don’t worry about who’s coaching. He hasn’t scored in a long time,” Boeheim said, getting a chuckle out of the media room. “They’ve got really good players and that’s what we’re looking at.”