Syracuse’s first regular season in the ACC has ended. The Fizz looks back at the top victories for the Orange.
- December 28th, no. 8 Villanova – In a battle of two top-ten teams, the Orange came out on top against the Wildcats 78-62. Despite 25 points from James Bell, Syracuse was able to ride Trevor Cooney’s 21 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc. Although many fans are excited about new rivalries in the ACC, the Villanova game had a nostalgic, Big East feel. It is important for the Syracuse program to keep this historic rivalry ongoing.
- January 18th, no. 22 Pittsburgh – Tyler Ennis gave us a taste of what he can do in late-game situations in this matchup. The freshman had two driving layups with less than two minutes to give Syracuse the lead against the Panthers. He also hit two clutch free throws as the Orange won 59-54. Perhaps the biggest positive was how Syracuse spread the ball on the offensive side. Ennis, Fair, Christmas and Grant all had double-digit points. With the offense slacking recently, it will be crucial for the Orange to have at least three playmakers on offense.
- February 1st, no. 17 Duke – The hype for this game was unlike anything we have seen. Between two Hall of Fame coaches and two storied programs with passionate fan bases, a rivalry was bound to begin. However, I do not think many thought it would start so quickly. Syracuse defeated Duke 91-89 in overtime in an instant classic. Surprisingly, it was Syracuse’s offense that helped the Orange to the victory. C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant both had over 20 points, while Rakeem Christmas had 12 rebounds and six blocks. Duke hit 15 three-pointers to stay within striking distance but the Orange took the lead late on free throws and got a big time win.
- February 12th, no. 25 Pittsburgh – The Orange knew this was going to be a tough environment to go into. Not only did Syracuse have a no. 1 ranking target on its back, but the Oakland Zoo is one of the loudest student sections in basketball. Pittsburgh gave Syracuse all they could handle and took a six-point lead with less than two minutes left. Fair hit a three from the corner to give the Orange a chance to steal one on the road. But we all know the big moment from this contest was Tyler Ennis’ buzzer-beater at the end of the game to keep the Orange undefeated. In a game Pittsburgh looked to win, the Orange had some late-game magic on its side beating the Panthers 58-56.
- February 15th, North Carolina State – Hoping to avoid a “hangover” game after the celebration from Ennis’ buzzer-beater three days before, the Orange again had to rally late and force a few turnovers to stay perfect, winning 56-55. Fair had his layup with seven seconds left count because of a goaltending call to give Syracuse a one-point lead, which would be the difference in this one. T.J. Warren dropped 23 for the Wolfpack but Christmas, Fair and Grant all had double figure point totals. This was another example of how good the Orange has been in late-game situations. Syracuse is hoping that can continue in the NCAA Tournament.
Although the Orange could not bring home a regular season ACC title in its first year in a new conference, Syracuse’s regular season was a major success. The Orange had the no. 1 ranking for three weeks and went 25-0 to start the season. Now Syracuse is preparing for where it really counts.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell