After a 36-point smacking by North Carolina, Syracuse went 2-0 last week with wins over Pitt and Miami. Saturday’s game against the Hurricanes wasn’t decided until the game clocks throughout the Dome displayed zeros and red lights appeared on the outline of the backboard.
At that moment, guard Quadir Copeland erased a 1-for-8 start from the floor and knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing to win the game. The crowd popped and the Dome cheered in unison.
Copeland nailed the first buzzer-beater for SU since 2017 when guard John Gillon pulled up from beyond the top of the arc. The former Orange banked one off the backboard to defeat Duke 78-75.
The sixth man, Copeland, has grown into a fan-favorite. Syracuse’s winning shot capped off the way his season is trending.
Copeland is aggressive off the bench, not afraid to share the basketball or defend whoever head coach Adrian Autry assigns him to.
Copeland’s averaging 8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in over 21 minutes per game this year. All of those categories are up from last season when he averaged just 2.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per contest in under 10 minutes.
Although Copeland’s playing time has been well earned, it hasn’t come without a little bit of luck.
His opportunity arose from a combination of events. Forward Benny Williams’ suspension, guard Chance Westry’s season-ending injury, and a missed start from Judah Mintz led to Copeland’s emergence.
Copeland posted double-digit points in a four game stretch throughout December. That streak capped off with a career-high 22-point performance against Pitt. He also notched seven steals throughout those four contests.
Some think that Copeland has earned a consistent starting nod. However, who would bring the energy off the bench if that turned out to be?
Maybe Copeland should start, or not. That’s up for discussion. But what we do know is that he provides a spark for Autry’s squad as a reserve.