It seems like we’re due for one of these types of games every year. Syracuse gutted out an 86-79 overtime win over longtime rival Georgetown in D.C.
We saw the press, clutch shooting and an unheralded player stepping up.
The Orange seemed dead and gone throughout the first 30 or so minutes of the game, but a completely different team came out of the tunnel in the second half. Oshae Brissett exploded. Tyus Battle knocked down what is seemingly becoming his trademark late game corner three to save SU.
Patrick Ewing even tried to have his “teacher becomes the master” moment when he pulled out the 2-3 zone against Jim Boeheim and the Orange, which worked for about a half. Before this game, Georgetown had only played zone for 1.4 percent of the season. Syracuse came alive with 8-for-17 shooting from deep in the second half and overtime after a 2-for-6 output in the first 20 minutes.
In the final 25 minutes, Syracuse scored 62 points after an extremely stagnant first half. The Orange overcame a 13 point deficit thanks to Brissett’s monster change at the half. In the final 25 minutes, the freshman scored 24 points and 10 rebounds to notch yet a other double-double and finish with 25 points and 14 boards.
“I just told myself there’s no way that I’m going to end the game playing like [I did in the first half],” Brissett said. “I have to do what I know how to do and start attacking and scoring like how the coaches and players trust me to do and I was able to do that in the second half.”
If Brissett was the lifeline in the second half of the game, then Battle was the life preserver in the first. The sophomore seemed like the only sign of offensive competency for the Orange with 11 points and not being afraid to take shots. Battle admitted he was not as aggressive in the second half, but made sure to change that in overtime, en route to a game-high 29 points.
“I think when I hit the three in the corner [to pull Syracuse within 2 points late in the game] I got going,” Battle said. “I just tried to attack and make something happen, which I wasn’t doing for a big portion of the second half.”
While Brissett and Battle powered the offense, there was one steady contributor who may not have made you say ‘wow!’ by watching his performance, but was essential nonetheless. Matt Moyer had 11 rebounds and just one turnover in 32 minutes, including a big offensive board that set up an opportunity to potentially let Syracuse capture the win in regulation.
Like seemingly every Syracuse comeback, it stemmed from the press being effective at crucial turning points in the game that allowed it to take a stranglehold on momentum and cruise in overtime.
“Coach [Boeheim] said that pressing gives us extra possessions on offense and we got a couple of steals,” Brissett said.
As for the rivalry aspect, it lacked the feel of two teams that hated each other. But then the second half rolled around and the crowd (which was Syracuse heavy) got into the game and created a clear momentum swing.
“It did [feel like a rivalry],” Battle said. “It got loud in here and me being in basketball, I love that. People chanting ‘Orange’ and the Georgetown fans chanting whatever they were saying so it was a lot of fun.”