SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Head coach Jim Boeheim said on Thursday night after defeating No. 25 Notre Dame that he thought Georgia Tech was as good as anyone they will play all year. Saturday's game didn't disappoint.
The Orange defeated the Yellow Jackets, 60-57, to improve to 15-8 overall, 5-5 in ACC play. It's the first time all season Syracuse is .500 in league play. SU received contributions from everyone who played on Saturday, which will be crucial moving forward.
Four takeaways from the win:
1. Frank Howard: Before Saturday's win over Georgia Tech, Howard was yet to make a significant impact on an ACC game for the Orange all season. He has appeared in 7-of-9 league games this season, and contributed very nicely against GT. He finished with a career-high 6 assists in 17 minutes of action. "Frank Howard had some of the best passes I've seen here in years," Boeheim said after the game. "When he stops shooting 10-foot floaters, he'll stay in the game." Howard finished the game without committing a turnover. He was the spark the Orange needed off the bench.
2. Malachi's second half: Richardson is averaging 15.2 points per game during ACC play, which leads the Orange. For the most part, his shot selection has been great, and his basketball IQ has been very impressive. Unlike earlier in the season, Malachi is putting the ball on the floor more and getting into the lane. He's showing he can score multiple ways, which has only benefited the Orange offensively. On Saturday, he was held scoreless in the first half. He went off for 13 second-half points, and hit 2 free throws with 3 seconds left to close the game out. Without his second half, SU would be 4-6 in league play and on the outside looking in to the NCAA Tournament.
3. Dajuan's big game: Coleman had arguably his best game of the season on Saturday, scoring 11 points and bodying up James White and Nick Jacobs all afternoon. He did foul out with just over 6 minutes to go in the game, but the Orange were able to hang on anyways. Offensively, Coleman was very effective, shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. He played 24 minutes, which was the 3rd-highest this season. Tyler Lydon did all he could, but White and Jacobs were too big for him to handle inside. Lydon remains undersized, especially in the weight department. Coleman held his own, which helped the Orange prevail.
4. Free throws: This something that has hurt the Orange all season, especially on Saturday. Syracuse went 12-of-21 from the free throw line, and missed a few front-ends of 1-and-1's down the stretch. It didn't come back to bite SU against the Yellow Jackets, but it has in the past. Malachi Richardson's 2 free throws with 3 seconds remaining locked up the win for the Orange. Despite winning the game, this is an issue that needs to improve, as we've said all season.