Five days ago Syracuse’s post-season prospects were in grave doubt. On Friday, Syracuse advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 70-51 win over the Dayton Flyers, avenging their 2014 round of 32 loss.
The stories of the game of was Tyler Roberson and Malachi Richardson. The first half was somewhat of a slugfest, with the Orange taking a 30-28 lead into the locker room. Syracuse’s scorers struggled to get going in the opening 20 minutes with Michael Gbinije only scoring five points in the first half. The was not one player who really stood out in the first half. The second half, there were two players who shone bright.
Malachi Richardson was little short of brilliant in this game, particularly in the second half. He turned it on, finishing the game with a game-high 21 points. He also added four rebounds, three assists and a steal before he fouled out in the final two minutes. Though he only finished 5-12 from the field, he was the catalyst of the Syracuse offense.
Richardson certainly got help, but not really in the scoring department. Tyler Roberson single-handily won one of my keys to the game for the Orange. Just like he did against Duke, Roberson absolutely dominated the glass, pulling in 18 rebounds, 8 of which on the offensive glass. He finished the game with a double-double, adding ten points to his 18 boards.
The shooting of Richardson and the rebounding of Roberson was aided by a stellar team defensive performance and some missed shots by Dayton. Syracuse was able to hold Dayton to a season-low 51 points. Dayton certainly didn’t help their own cause, going 8-18 from the charity stripe.
Going forward, Syracuse fans have to be happy with what unfolded on Friday. Not only did Syracuse accomplish what many considered to be the main goal, but they played at a level that has to give the team confidence going forward as they prepare for, presumably, Michigan State. Richardson has to be feeling good about his offense, Roberson may have finally gotten back to himself and Michael Gbinije extended his nation’s-best streak of scoring in double digits as he scored at least 10 for the 33rd straight game.
All in all, it was a very good day to be a Syracuse fan.