It has been snowing in Syracuse since 2 a.m. yesterday, but an accumulation of about 20 inches of snow didn‚Äôt stop Syracuse fans from showing up to the Carrier Dome to see their No. 1 Syracuse Orange play the No. 8 UNC Greensboro Spartans in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament .
And the Syracuse team showed up as well.
Among lingering conversations that SU should have been in the NCAA Tournament, the Orange established its dominance early.
Following a dunk by Spartans freshman Kyrin Galloway to open scoring for the night, Orange freshman Tyus Battle hit the mark with a three to give Syracuse the early lead.
Taurean Thompson opened his play in the game with eight of the Orange‚Äôs first 12 points.
And then three became the magic number. Andrew White III was on fire as he went on a hot streak with five scores in a row. Four of those were threes, with one jumper in between.
White III went on to break the Syracuse single-season record for three-point scoring in the game when he hit his 108th shot beyond the arc this season, passing Gerry McNamara for the title.
Syracuse did fall behind 24-23 with 9:12 to go in the first half, but that lasted for all of 16 seconds. SU quickly responded with a three-point shot to regain the lead 26-24.
UNC Greensboro only led the game for a total 36 seconds in the first half. Syracuse went into halftime up by ten, 37-27.
The Orange did have some defensive struggles in the first half as the Spartans exploited the SU 2-3 zone from the post under the basket (as teams have been able to do since last year‚Äôs Final Four game) and from the middle of the zone. However, the Syracuse offense was able to lead the way and keep the game in check for itself.
And that‚Äôs what UNC Greensboro tried to stop.
From the top of the second half, the Spartans played a press on the Orange. But most of it looked lazy. Syracuse was able to quickly evade any blocking and get to the front court.
If it wasn‚Äôt already, the story became all Orange from there. Syracuse pulled away from UNC Greensboro.
In just over eight minutes of second-half play, SU doubled its lead as it went up 20 67-47.
The lead steadied at 15 for the Orange, but of any team, SU knows best that that lead might not be enough. Syracuse has come back from that kind of deficit before (Gonzaga in last year‚Äôs NCAA Tournament, NC State and Virginia come to mind).
With under two minutes to go in the game, Syracuse was only up 81-74.
Still, the Orange pulled off the 90-77 win at home, as it has done so well on the Hill this season.
Next, No. 1 Syracuse will host No. 5 Ole Miss in the second round of the NIT¬†on Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Carrier Dome.
Published: David Edelstein