To say that yesterday’s senior day was an emotional win would be an understatement. On the court, it was all about Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney’s last home game. For many of the students sitting behind the hoop, it was the last time they would see Syracuse basketball on the hardwood. Unfortunately, I was part of the latter grouping. In honor of four outstanding years of college basketball that included a Final Four run, a 25-0 start, and many more memories, here are the top five games that I’ve seen at the Carrier Dome in the last four years.
- NC State vs. Syracuse: Feb. 15, 2014
It was a classic Syracuse win, where close defense and late scoring led to a shaky win in front of an anxious crowd. The exclamation point on this game was CJ Fair’s layup with just under seven seconds left on the clock to take the lead, which sent the Carrier Dome into a frenzy. This was the game that pushed SU’s record-setting start to 25-0, although the team would drop its next game. SU was #1 in the country and nearly 32,000 fans packed the Dome, bigger than any crowd in 2016. Syracuse 56, NC State 55.
- NC State vs. Syracuse, Feb. 27, 2016
Rather shockingly, NC State gave Syracuse fans many good memories despite hanging near the bottom of the ACC perennially. On senior day, Gbinije dropped 34 points on an extremely efficient 11-for-18 shooting. Sure, this may not have been one of the headlining games, but Gbinije and the Orange sent fans home happy with a convincing win and some tacos. Plus, how could my final home game not make the cut? Syracuse 75, NC State 66.
- Louisville vs. Syracuse, Feb. 18, 2015
There wasn’t too much to be excited over last season when the Orange implemented a self-ban from postseason play, but that didn’t stop Rakeem Christmas and the Orange from steamrolling the 12th-ranked Cardinals late in conference play. Christmas led the way with 29 points and four blocks on 9-of-10 shooting. It was the Orange’s first win over a ranked team that season, and it put an exclamation point on a season that didn’t have many. Syracuse 69, Louisville 59.
- Georgetown vs. Syracuse, March 16, 2013
Okay, this might be cheating a little bit, but let’s just group together the Georgetown storyline into one game. The Orange hosted a record-setting crowd at the Carrier Dome earlier in the year and ended up dropping the game to bitter-rival Georgetown. Then, SU was embarrassed on the road in the final regular-season matchup with the Hoyas. However, a strong Big East Tournament performance led the two to a semifinal clash for the ages. I was lucky enough to be at Madison Square Garden for the game, and the overtime win was electric. Finished with a huge dunk by CJ Fair over Otto Porter, the Orange (#19) hung on in overtime to knock off the Hoyas, which very well may have catapulted the Final Four run. Syracuse 58, Georgetown 55 (OT).
- Duke vs. Syracuse, February 3, 2014
A clear-cut favorite, Duke’s first trip to the Carrier Dome for an ACC matchup was one for the record books. Whether it be the busses sporting “Beat Duke” everywhere around campus, College Gameday coming to the Hill, or the biggest on-campus crowd in college basketball history, SU and Duke kicked off their rivalry in grand fashion. The #2 ranked Orange would knock off the 17th-ranked Blue Devils in OT to claim the #1 spot in the country and send campus into a frenzy. The win gave SU it’s best start in program history, despite Rasheed Sulaimon’s game-tying buzzer beater to force overtime. SU fed Jerami Grant down low in OT after Jabari Parker fouled out and the Orange came away with one of the biggest wins in program history behind Fair’s 28 and Grant’s huge overtime performance. Syracuse 91, Duke 89 (OT).