The final home game in Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije’s careers did not get off to the best start, as Cooney, a graduate student, air-balled his first shot. From that point on, however, this went better for the seniors, particularly Michael Gbinije as he led the Orange to a 75-66 win in the home finale.
Gbinije who finished the game with a career-high 34 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals, got the Orange going on offense with a trio of early three-pointers. He finished the first half with 12 points, going 4-7 from downtown. Malachi Richardson, who had greatly struggled in recent games, finished the first half 9 points, going 3-5 from beyond the arc.
Before the game, it was all about the seniors. In the first half it was all about one senior. In the second half it was, once again, all about Michael Gbinije. No shot stands out more than the three he hit with just over five minutes to go. It extended a precarious Syracuse lead to 8 and gave him 1,000 points (which Gbibije did not know until after the game) for his career, igniting the crowd and helping the Orange close out the Wolfpack.
This result is huge for the Orange. They are now 19-10 overall and 9-7 in the ACC and are probably only one win away from securing a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Orange have road games against UNC and Florida State ahead before going to Washington D.C. for the ACC tournament.
What Michael Gbinije did on Saturday was, to quote Coach K, amazing, Simply amazing. When the rest of the team slowed down and the Wolfpack clawed their way back, Silent G silenced the comeback. He did it from beyond the arc, in the paint and from mid-range. It was really a performance that you would have to see to believe.
It was just one of those days, in Gbinije’s words, where the “basket looked bigger”.
Gbinije is the undoubted leader of this team and on Saturday, he put in a performance that may be talked about for years to come. The fact that this game was one that was very important to the Orange makes Gbinije’s heroic’s that much more unbelievable.
He and Cooney both received huge ovations when they were pulled from the games in the final seconds and both have given a tremendous amount to the program in their years here.
“It still hasn’t hit me,” Gbinije said. “Syracuse has been a really great place for me. I love Syracuse.”
Trevor Cooney may have really struggled throughout the game but he was honored and serenaded by the fans, as he deserved.
“It felt awesome,” Cooney said. “When you play college basketball, you want to play at a place like this,”
Fortunately for Gbinije and for Syracuse, Silent G was able to go out in style and get the Orange that much closer to the post-season.