This was the number one GIF of 2017.
So it is only fitting that Syracuse submits that type of performance to close out the calendar year. SU rolled past Virginia Tech 68-56 in its ACC opener.
Who saw this coming?
The Hokies came in averaging 91.3 points per game, good for fifth in the nation. But VT struggled to a 19-spot in the first 20 minutes, and it was pretty much all Orange after that.
Virginia Tech showed some fight out of the gate with an early 12-0 run out of the half, but Syracuse seemingly responded to every punch that VT threw its way and came back with a 17-3 spurt to put the game away for the Orange.
This start to what is looking like an absolute gauntlet of a conference slate is super promising. Syracuse dominated in all facets of the game, including bucking its shooting woes with a 49% performance from the field.
Also, don’t look now, but the return of good Frank Howard may be upon us. The junior posted a super efficient game of 17 points on 6-11 shooting, but also continued to give the ball away at an alarming rate with 5 turnovers. He is averaging 5.1 turnovers per contest over his last nine games.
But the Orange still got what it needed out of its main guys for ACC play. Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett. The star tandem combined for 36 points in the win.
However the most alarming stat line of the game probably came from Matt Moyer. The redshirt picked up his first career double-double and got more run than fellow forward Marek Dolezaj. Moyer is likely going to be the more important player moving forward since his size is more suitable against ACC bodies.
But in a game where Syracuse was restricted to only seven available guys with Bourama Sidibe out for the fourth game this season, the Orange essentially ran with six guys, despite having numerous guys (guards included) run into foul trouble early and Dolezaj actually fouling out. No signs of Howard Washington this early in the season with a sizeable lead and foul trouble all over the floor is not a good sign for his playing time as the rest of the season moves along. Jim Boeheim said earlier this season that he wanted to use a three guard rotation more, but those prospects do not look promising after today.
Regardless, Syracuse is 12-2 and 1-0 in ACC play. I don’t think anyone saw that sentence coming. The road to nine ACC wins just got its first green check mark. Now, the Orange cannot afford to leave those memories in 2017. Because the New Year is about to get a whole lot harder.