Most weeks with only one game tend to be boring and not usually filled with excitement. That is unless that game goes to overtime when one team had been out of it. That was exactly the case in Syracuse win over Virginia Tech last Tuesday. Since then, the Orange have been off and able to rest for a strenuous four game stretch over the next two weeks.
After trailing for literally the entire game, the Orange used a late comeback to tie the game at 56 at the end of regulation and Malachi Richardson, who had gotten hot as he tends to do at the end of games had a chance to give the Orange a win at the buzzer. But in overtime, it was all Syracuse, with the Orange outscoring the Hokies 12-4 in the extra period to come away with a 68-60 victory. Both teams started slow, but got hot in the second half to make what looked like what could be an easy Virginia Tech win into tight game late in favor of the Orange.
Trailing by six at halftime, the Orange outscored Buzz Williams' squad by 14 the rest of the way to pull away with the win. It was a total team effort, with shots falling from behind the arc in the second half after only knocking down two in the first half. Any way you look at it, this was a big win that could go a long ways in the confidence of this team after losing close games all year.
Highlights of the Week
Michael Gbinije: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 43 minutes
I don't think there is one real go-to guy on this team, but there is no doubt in my mind who the leader is. Gbinije consistently is the one rallying the troops to get back in the game and is almost always the leading scorer on the team. He has expanded his game so much this year, and while he will never be a true point guard, his skill set is so unique that teams still have trouble guarding him.
Malachi Richardson: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 42 minutes
The freshman has a knack for knocking down the big shot and getting hot at the right time. He has matured so much this year, from being the kid that would force something that wasn't there to being able to find his shot and being able to make the extra pass that other players don't see. His assist numbers are up, and his scoring is right where it should be, consistently in double figures and only explodes when he has to. In my opinion, Richardson is making a strong case for ACC Freshman of the Year, and could be a clear choice behind Duke's Brandon Ingram.
Tyler Roberson: 12 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 41 minutes
As coach Mike Hopkins likes to say, we got "plugged in Robey" on Tuesday night. He might still struggle on the offensive end at times because of his lack of mid-range jumper, but when you keep getting the ball two feet from the basket, you don't really need that jump shot. A big reason he tends to get the ball close is because of his offensive rebounding skill, pulling down six against the Hokies. The energy Roberson brings to this team on the defensive end especially is invaluable, and has really come into his own as a player this year when the Orange desperately needed someone in the frontcourt to step up.
Lowlights of the Week
DaJuan Coleman: 3 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 16 minutes
Coleman has surprised some people this year, and is honestly probably right where he needs to be after all of the knee issues he has had. But he is consistently a liability inside and has yet to figure out how to defend anyone without fouling them. That posses a huge problem for Jim Boeheim when he's trying to figure out who to play in crunch time. You want the big body out there, but he generally has three or four fouls. I've been impressed with how Coleman has played at times this year, but I just haven't seen enough consistent growth to make him a highlight.
After an eight day layoff, the Orange will take on Florida State on Thursday before starting on a two-game road trip. They will make the short trip to Boston College Saturday before taking on Louisville next Wednesday. The Cardinals could be a real challenge after announcing a self-imposed postseason ban, so they can only hope to play the role of spoiler this season for teams like the Orange fighting for an NCAA tournament birth.