The Syracuse Orange lost some early momentum but were able to recover in the second half, rallying to beat the Florida State Seminoles 76-67. The victory moves SU to the No. 8 spot in the ACC Tournament seeding, which if it holds in the coming weeks, would mean a one-game bye.
SU wasted no time getting on the board. Maliq Brown leapt after the opening tip-off, reeled it in, and promptly took off and slammed it down for the opening score. Jesse Edwards followed that up with a jumper and Joe Girard made his first shot from distance to build an early 7-0 lead.
While the Orange offense started off hot, the ‘Noles shooters were ice cold. They only made one of their first 13 attempts from the arc and were struggling to even move the ball at first. That was until 7’4” Naheed McLeod checked into the game and became the focal point of the FSU attack. The skyscraper towered over Syracuse defenders in the paint and finished off plenty of lob passes to the tune of a 13-0 Seminoles run and a 35-29 FSU lead at halftime.
Things were pretty evenly paced to start the second half - until the Dutchman confirmed our Faegan’s prediction with a beautiful behind-the-back slam.
Hey @AnishESPN does it look like these teams were at Flip Night before tip-off?— NunesMagician.com (@NunesMagician) February 9, 2023
Jesse bringing flip night to Tallahassee— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) February 9, 2023
That dunk kicked off a mini rally to close the gap and eventually get SU the lead back. Another Girard triple, his fourth of five on the night, gave the Orange the lead back, 45-44.
While Joe and Jesse were carrying the offensive production, Judah Mintz was having a night to forget. He finally made his first FG 27 minutes into the game after starting 0/5 - the longest it’s taken him to make a basket all season. As you might expect, getting the rookie back on track was the turning point.
Mintz followed up his first bucket by drawing and converting the +1. Chris Bell, who was having his own shaky night, hit his only three to keep things going. Another +1 by Judah gave the Orange the lead for good, as that along with jumpers from JGIII and #3 set off a 16-2 scoring run to build some distance.
The ‘Noles cut the ‘Cuse lead to as low as four but never regained it themselves, as Jim Boeheim’s group picked up their 15th win of the season, matching last year’s regular season total. This time around, the group still has an outside chance to make some noise if they can finish their schedule strong and carry that over into the ACC Tournament.
Girard finished with a team-high 26 points in what was a quietly effective performance. I word it like that because although there weren’t many ‘wow’ moments from the senior shooting specialist, he did his job by scoring early and often. Edwards was next in line with 18, and Mintz followed with 16 while also contributing six assists. This was Jesse’s first double-digit rebounding performance (12) since the loss to Miami six contests ago. Bell also reached double digits before fouling out for just the second time in his career.
The Orange get about a week off before returning to the Dome on Tuesday for a matchup with #22 NC State. The Wolfpack were held to a season-low 50 points against #8 Virginia last night, but they do have Boston College to reset against on Saturday before coming to Syracuse.