For the second time in as many days, Syracuse defeated a top-25 team. Yesterday, the Orange defeated No. 18 UConn, 79-76, in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. Today, the victim was No. 25 Texas A&M, who fell 74-67.
Senior guard Michael Gbinije was named the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament MVP. He averaged 21 points and 5 assists over the last three games. Time and time again, the Orange went to Gbinije to get them a basket, and he continuously delivered. He was 8-for-11 from the free throw line, as well.
After another slow first half of just three points, Malachi Richardson woke up in the second half. Thanks to a flagrant foul by Texas A&M's Anthony Collins, Richardson played the rest of the game with a chip on his shoulder. He finished the game with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
"He was really bad in both first halves, and really good in both second halves," Boeheim said of freshman Malachi Richardson's past two performances.
Despite not shooting well from the floor, Malachi is finding other ways to score. That's rare, especially for a freshman. He's a confident player, he knows his limits and has an extremely high basketball IQ. When his outside shot wasn't falling these last two games, he's made it a priority to get to the basket.
Fellow freshman Tyler Lydon fell two rebounds shy of another double-double. He had 13 points and 8 rebounds. He was perfect from 3-point range (3-for-3) and the free throw line (2-for-2).
Not only has Lydon impressed all of Syracuse, but the national media is starting to believe the hype.
"Tyler Lydon may be the best pro prospect in the tournament," Jay Bilas said during the Gonzaga-Connecticut broadcast. Those are big words from a basketball guru.
Trevor Cooney came to Syracuse five years ago as a shooter, but will leave as a basketball player. The 6-foot-4 guard can do it all, and he's proved it this week. He blocked shots, dished out assists, rebounded and played stellar defense.
He finished today with 15 points and 5 assists, and he averaged 17 points and 4 assists per game down in the Bahamas. He's filling up the stat sheet, something we didn't see in previous seasons.
Dajuan Coleman looked like Dajuan Coleman today. He scored four points and had six rebounds, three of those were offensive boards. He sat late in the second half due to four fouls. He's only getting better, and if he stays healthy, he'll be a factor for the Orange all season. Watching Coleman's physicality and his determination on the glass is encouraging.
"Dajuan's play down here was very encouraging," Boeheim said after the game.
Tyler Roberson also found himself in foul trouble. He scored six points and grabbed four rebounds. Despite a slower performance today, Roberson looks like a different player than the one everyone saw on opening night. He's more aggressive, asserting himself inside and is looking to score. He's taking advantage of mismatches and really performed well in the Bahamas.
Syracuse defeated ranked opponents in back-to-back games for the first time since 2013. Come Monday, SU will be ranked in the AP Top 25.
The Orange return to the floor on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd vs. Wisconsin (4-3, 0-0) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2.