Gbinije lifts Syracuse to thrilling overtime victory

Against all odds down the stretch, Syracuse was able to pull of a comeback for the ages against Virginia Tech.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Orange didn't take their first lead of the game until overtime, but it didn't matter. 

"This was the first game since I've been back where we just didn't have it," SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. 

Syracuse came out cold against the Hokies. Senior guard Trevor Cooney missed two early three-pointers, which led to back-to-back three's from Seth Allen and Justin Bibbs. Virginia Tech led, 6-0, early before a Tyler Roberson put-back basket got the Orange on the board. 

SU closed VT's lead to 16-15 with 6:55 remaining in the first half after two Tyler Roberson free throws. The Hokies went on a 14-6 run in the final 6:54 of the half, but freshman Tyler Lydon hit a buzzer-beater 3-pointer to cut the deficit to six. 

Offensively, the Orange were not executing in the first half. Michael Gbinije (8) and Tyler Roberson (7) combined for 15 of SU's 24 points, while Lydon had seven of his own. As a team, Syracuse went 2-for-14 (14.3%) from deep, and 6-for-11 (54.5%) from the charity stripe. Cooney was held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting.

SU took a 18-17 rebounding advantage into the half in large part to Roberson's eight, four, of which, were offensive.

But as bad as it was, the Orange were only down six. Zach LeDay led the Hokies with 11 first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting. VT was 5-for-11 from deep.

The second half started out all Syracuse, as Gbinije hit a mid-range jumper, and Cooney drained his first 3-pointer of the game. The Hokies' lead was quickly cut to one. After SU's 5-0 run to open the half, Virginia Tech went on a 7-0 run, extending their lead to 37-29 with 16:55 to go. Coach Boeheim called a timeout, which was ultimately charged as the under-16 media timeout.

Franklin Howard, Richardson and Gbinije scored the next six points of the game, cutting VT's lead to 37-36. 

This game had a trend. Both teams were showing their resilience in this must-win ACC game. 

With the Orange trailing the Hokies by one with 5:55 to go, Gbinije picked up his fourth foul and all went south for SU. 

Over the next 2:29, Virginia Tech went on a 7-2 run which seemed to have put the game out of reach.

"I saw people going home again early," Boeheim said. "I guess they gave up a little bit."

Unfortunately for those fans, Syracuse did not give up. 

SU trailed 55-48 with 1:30 to go in the game. Malachi Richardson sank a corner 3-pointer and assisted a Tyler Lydon dunk on the next possession to cut the Virginia Tech lead to 56-53.

Bibbs' went 1-of-2 at the free throw line before Michael Gbinije hit an NBA-range 3-pointer to tie the game at 56 with 26.9 seconds left in the second half.

"I was just trying to get the best available shot. I felt if I were to go off the screen it probably would've attracted the double team. I just saw an opportunity in that shot and took it," Gbinije said after the game.

After a missed runner by Justin Gibbs, Richardson had a chance to win it for the Orange.

"Oh, this is going in," he said when asked about the game-winning attempt at the end of regulation. "It felt great coming out of my hands, but it was just one of those shots that didn't want to go in tonight."

The freshman came inches away from giving Syracuse their first lead of the night, which would've came at the buzzer and won the game. But instead, the Hokies and Orange went to overtime.

It didn't take long for Syracuse to grab the lead as Gbinije hit a mid-range jumper just 22 seconds into OT. Kerry Blackshear tied the game up with a layup, but after that it was all SU.

Trevor Cooney hit his second 3-pointer of the game, Tyler Lydon had a two-handed dunk and Malachi Richardson hit a fadeaway three. Tyler Roberson and Dajuan Coleman each went 1-of-2 from the free throw line down the stretch to secure the victory.

Roberson finished the game with 12 points and 15 rebounds, which was good for his sixth double-double of the season.

After struggling offensively for the first 40 minutes, Syracuse dominated overtime and won the game, 68-60.

The Orange improved to 16-8 overall, 6-5 in ACC play. SU is above .500 for the first time in league play this season.

Michael Gbinije led all scorers with 17 points. Lydon and Richardson each scored 13 points.

Justin Bibbs led the Hokies with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"It was a good win. I'm glad I won't see you for a while," Boeheim joked as he exited his press conference. The Hall-of-Famer is referring to SU's 8-day stretch without playing a game.

The Orange return to the floor next Thursday, Feb. 11th vs. Florida State (7 p.m. ET on ESPN). 


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