The Feisty Four Keep Orange on Top

Coming off of a comeback win over Louisville on the road, Syracuse did not disappoint from making this match another climactic finish. More inside.

Think back with me to one game ago.

The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team were on the road against the then top-ranked team in the nation, the Louisville Cardinals.

Down 68-67 late in the match, sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams, who had eight turnovers in the game himself, caused a turnover, stealing the ball from Cardinals' senior guard Peyton Siva and taking it to the rim for a two-handed slam.

Shortly after, Carter-Williams connected on one of his two free throw opportunities.

Up 70-68, Carter-Williams made the third-consecutive big play, stealing the ball once again from Louisville to prevent them from getting a shot off en route to Syracuse's win.

Coming home, Carter-Williams entered the Carrier Dome with his teammates, only to head into another thriller that would once again come down to the final moments.

Now, it is time to Tarantino this game to find out how Syracuse got into another heart-wrenching finish.

The Orange began the game playing from behind early, with Syracuse not taking the lead until 13:54 remaining in the opening half, at 10-9.

Senior guard Brandon Triche, who was a catalyst in keeping the Orange with the Cardinals a game ago, made a three-pointer and a layup to lead the team to their first advantage.

Freshman forward Jerami Grant, elevated to a starting role for the first time ever in his career, connected on his jumper early on in the match to aid Triche and fellow forward, junior C.J. Fair, in getting Syracuse on top after playing a little more than six minutes from behind.

The Orange would keep hold of the lead from there in the first half, with five of their eight players scoring before the break.

Triche, along with redshirt sophomore guard Trevor Cooney, had the best shooting percentage for Syracuse in the first half, making 50% of their attempts; Triche made three of six, Cooney two of four.

But overall, the Orange looked anything but ripe in the opening half, connecting on a mere nine of their 24 attempts from the field.

They made a forgettable three of their 10 tries from long range, with Fair, Triche, and Cooney making one apiece.

The only thing worse than Syracuse's shooting in the first half was that of Cincinnati. The Bearcats saw only six of their 29 attempts go inside the cylinder.

Leaning heavily on the long range aspect of the game, 18 of their 29 tries from the field came from beyond the arc. They made only four of those 18 attempts, to fall below the 30%-mark set by the Orange to 22.2%.

Despite making less of their takes, however, Cincinnati went into the locker room down by a mere four points, 22-18.

The Bearcats wasted little time in turning their deficit into an advantage, connecting on a three-pointer at the 17:25 mark to go ahead 25-24.

Cincinnati would hold onto that lead until 19.4 seconds remaining in the game.

But, holding a lead for more than 17 minutes does not mean anything if you do not still have that advantage when the final buzzer speaks for the final time in the game.

After trailing almost the entire second half, Fair, along with other hands, pushed up a miss from Grant into the net from the left side of the rim with 19.4 seconds to go. That none-shot turned into a field goal became the difference, with Syracuse holding on to a 57-55 advantage to end the game.

The Orange would tie the Bearcats on three occasions in the latter half, but none more important than when Carter-Williams connected from long range to bring the game even at 55 with 1:21 to go.

Carter-Williams would score 14 of his 16 points in the second half, connecting on jumpers from both inside and outside the arc as well as at the free throw line.

Fellow guard Triche would elevate his game in a time of heightened necessity once again, making two jumpers inside of the five-minute-mark.

With the play of the guards, along with the play of forwards Fair and Grant, the usual suspects that helped achieve a win versus Louisville did it again against Cincinnati.

Carter-Williams led all Syracuse scorers in shooting percentage (60%) and points accumulated (16), with Triche and Fair following close behind with 13 apiece.

The sophomore guard also created the most opportunities for his teammates with seven assists.

Cooney created the most opportunities for the Orange on the defensive end, grabbing four steals in the match, which alone equaled more than the output of the entire Bearcats' squad (2).

As a team, Syracuse only turned the ball over six times, while Cincinnati lost possession on 10 occasions.

Grant ended the match atop all Orange in rebounds with seven, six on the defensive end and one on offense. Fair also ended with a dominant presence on the defensive boards, grabbing five to his one on offense to finish with six in total.

In the end, Syracuse overcame a more than 20% improvement by Cincinnati from three-point territory (4-for-18 to 6-for-14).

The Orange, themselves, improved their shooting overall by almost 20% in the second half.

But it was the tip with under 30 seconds to play that found its ways into the net which kept Syracuse undefeated in the Big East Conference at 6-0.

It was the "who really touched the ball" play that extended the Orange home-winning streak to 35 games, which is the best in the nation.

Whoever had more to do with that final shot, one thing remains true: the "Feisty Four" of Fair, Triche, Carter-Williams, and Grant have gotten Syracuse to those opportunities, and have kept the ball, well Orange, rolling.

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