SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When Jim Boeheim handed the keys to the Syracuse basketball program to Mike Hopkins, the Orange were 6-1 overall. Tomorrow, Boeheim will take the keys back from Hopkins, but the Bentley, which Hop compared it to, is in much worse condition.
"Well, Dad (Boeheim) might be a little upset," Hopkins joked post game. "At the end of the day, I have to give the car back," he continued. "And that's going to be hard."
Syracuse had an opportunity on Tuesday night to win a meaningful league game and get their season back on track. The Orange failed to do so, losing at home in overtime.
The Tigers clawed their way back into the game thanks to Jaron Blossomgame, who dominated the Orange for a second straight game. Last year, he finished with fifteen points and twelve boards. Tuesday night, Blossomgame tallied twenty points and six rebounds in fourty minutes.
Syracuse was inconsistent in the first half, which has been a reoccurring theme all season. Shooting just 4-of-16 from 3-point range, SU faced a 33-25 deficit at the break. Tyler Roberson was the loan bright spot, scoring ten points on 5-of-7 shooting. He was 'plugged in,' as coach Hopkins would say.
Roberson, Richardson and Michael Gbinije scored twenty five points for the Orange in the first half, while the rest of the team was held scoreless, going 0-for-11 from the field.
Syracuse was impressive on the offensive glass in the first half, finishing with nine. Those nine offensive rebounds only led to six second-chance points. The Tigers' bench outscored SU's, 12-0, in the first half.
The second half was a different story, as it tends to normally be.
Trevor Cooney and Malachi Richardson got the Orange on the board early with 3-pointers, cutting Clemson's lead to 35-31. Dajuan Coleman gave up an early offensive rebound to Landry Nnoko, which coach Hopkins immediately yelled, "Tyler, go," referencing Tyler Lydon to enter the game.
Dajuan never returned to the game, and Lydon never left. Coleman was held scoreless in thirteen minutes of action. He did grab three rebounds, though.
For a second straight game, Malachi Richardson shot the ball extremely well from deep. The frosh finished 5-of-7 from three, and had 21 points. He was SU's leading rebounder with nine.
With 18 seconds left, Richardson went 1-of-2 from the free throw, giving the Orange a 61-58 lead. Gabe DeVoe then hit a contested 3-pointer in the corner with 5.6 seconds left, which tied the game at 61 to force overtime. Gbinije missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
In overtime, Clemson took over. Ten of their thirteen points came from inside the paint, an area in which the Orange didn't have an answer to.
As both teams exchanged baskets, Blossomgame gave the Tigers a five points lead with 31 seconds remaining. Trevor Cooney then hit a 3-pointer, making the score 72-70, in favor of Clemson.
Jordan Roper hit two free throws for the Tigers, who ultimately hung on to beat the Orange, 74-73.
Mike Hopkins first stint as head coach of the Orange didn't go as plan, as he finished 4-5 overall, 0-3 in ACC play.
The official attendance, 16,305, was the smallest attendance for a league game in 15+ years, according to an SU spokesman.
Syracuse (10-6, 0-3) will face No. 6 North Carolina on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) in Jim Boeheim's first game back.