Syracuse took a one point lead into halftime on a buzzer beating jumper from Rakeem Christmas, who led the Orange with a game-high 18 points. The second was even uglier than the first, as the two teams combined for 18 turnovers and just 12 made baskets.
After two free-throws gave the Yellow Jackets a late lead, Christmas was fouled with just 12.4 seconds remaining. He calmly hit both attempts to put the Orange back out in front. A contested three-pointer at the buzzer missed and Syracuse hunt on for the important victory.
The two teams came in among the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, Syracuse ranked 306th and Georgia Tech dead last at 345th. Tech lived up to that reputation, making just three of their 17 attempts. Syracuse was surprisingly solid from beyond the arc, though their attempts were far fewer. The Orange went 4-9 from the deep perimeter.
Syracuse outshot Georgia Tech from the floor 35% to 26%, but the Yellow Jackets stayed in it with their advantage on the boards. Georgia Tech won the rebounding battle 43-33, including 19 on the offensive glass.
Neither team could anything going consistently on the offensive end all night. Thirty-two of Syracuse’s 46 points came from two players in Christmas and Michael Gbinije. Gbinije was big for Syracuse with 14 points, 10 rebounds and one monster second half block.
Yes it was ugly. Yes watching this game was painful. And yes, Syracuse looked awful for much of the game. But ultimately, it was a road conference win that extended Syracuse’s winning streak to five. The Orange will take it, but will look to improve significantly going forward.
WHAT WE LIKED: The Syracuse defense played well, preventing easy looks for the Georgia Tech offense. They forced the Yellow Jackets to beat them with their weakness, outside shooting. Ultimately, Georgia Tech fell just short. Offensively, Rakeem Christmas was very good. It was important to see him hit two critical free-throws, especially after the way Syracuse shot from the line against Virginia Tech. Gbinije continues to play well with his first career double-double of 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. He has made 11 of his last 16 three-pointers, spanning the last five games.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE: Um… everything? In all seriousness, this game was horribly played by both teams. Jim Boeheim called it the worst offensive game he’s ever seen. That just about sums it up. The teams combined to shoot 33-109 or 30%. Just bad. Sloppy execution, poor shooting, turnovers, shot block violations, basket interference. This game had it all, and not in a good way.
KEY MOMENT: With Syracuse trailing by a point with under 30 seconds to go, Syracuse calls a timeout to set up a play. They feed Rakeem Christmas inside out of the break, who is fouled while attempting a shot with 12.4 seconds left. The senior hits both freebies to give the Orange a one point lead that they would hold on to in order to pull off the road win.
STATS OF THE DAY: Georgia Tech was 15-57 (26.3%) from the field overall and just 3-17 (17.6%) from beyond the arc. They won the rebounding battle 43-33 and snatched 19 on the offensive end. Despite that edge, Syracuse actually had more second chance points than Georgia Tech, 10-9. After turning it over just twice in the first half, Syracuse had 10 miscues in the final frame. Kaleb Joseph, Chris McCullough, Tyler Roberson and Ron Patterson combined to shoot just 2-14 from the field.
NOTES: This was the first time in school history that Syracuse has beaten Georgia Tech in their home state. Michael Gbinije notched his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Rakeem Christmas reached double figures in scoring for the 14th time in 15 games. The two teams combined for just 8 points off the bench. The game featured nine ties and 14 lead changes. The largest lead by either team was four, held by Georgia Tech.
UP NEXT: Syracuse comes back to the Carrier Dome for their first ACC home game as they host the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday at 8:00pm.