The first half inside the dome Saturday felt like an NIT game. Georgia Tech came out hungry, fed the ball down low to Moses Wright and took a 38-27 lead into the halftime break. Syracuse shot it just 27% from the floor, battled foul trouble (again) and seemed on the verge of hitting rock bottom.
But, then came the second half. A 52 point outburst, which included 64% shooting en route to a 79-72 comeback win. It was tied for the highest scoring half of the season for Syracuse (second half of Duke also was 52 points).
“It was one of the best second halves we’ve ever played. Anywhere.” Jim Boeheim said afterwards. “We had better movement. We got better shots. This was always going to be a hard game and when we got off to a bad first half, it was really hard”
It was one of the most balanced performances of the season for him. Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj both finished with 20 points, Joe Girard had 15 points and Buddy Boeheim tallied 13 points. But, perhaps the biggest difference was Bourama Sidibe.
The starting center did somehow foul out despite not picking up his first foul till there was roughly eight minutes left in the game. He’s now fouled out in 6 of the last 7 games. Overall, though, this was one of his best games of the season. Sidibe finished with 6 points and 10 rebounds.
“This is what Bourama can do. He can do what he did today. He makes us just different if he can do those things”
After playing Howard Washington, Jesse Edwards and Brycen Goodine in the first half and going nine deep, Boeheim stuck with the same five for basically the entirety of the second half, until Sidibe fouled out when the game was in hand in the final couple minutes.
“All five guys were tremendous…I don’t think anybody was tired today,” Boeheim said.
Syracuse is now 15-12 on the season and 8-8 in ACC play.
This was always a game Syracuse was supposed to win. A 79-72 victory outcome was basically right in line with what Vegas and everyone predicted. But, the manner in which they won spoke to the character and fight of this year’s team.
In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean much. But, at the end of the first half it felt hopeless and fans were agitated inside the dome. By the second half, the 26,000 announced fans were loud inside the dome and everyone was having fun.
Now we will see if Sidibe can bring it again against Pittsburgh on the road Wednesday.