The CuseNation.com staff is counting down the top five moments from Syracuse basketball's 2015-16 season. Here is pick number two according to Mike McAllister and Ben Sigel.
McAllister: Senior Night
Honoring seniors Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney was important. Both had given a lot to the program, endured the sanctions from the NCAA and became the leaders for the 2015-16 squad. Senior night was about them and thanking them for their contributions to Syracuse basketball. But one of them stole the show.
In what head coach Jim Boeheim would call one of the best senior night performances he has ever seen, Gbinije scored a career-high 34 points on 11-18 shooting including 8-13 from beyond the arc.
"It was his game," Boeheim said. "He had a tremendous game, probably as good as any senior has ever had that I can recall. He was great tonight and he was the difference.”
Gbinije would add six assists, four rebounds and three blocks to his huge scoring night. It was a fitting way for him to go out in his last game inside the Carrier Dome.
Sigel: Victory over Gonzaga
Not only did the Sweet Sixteen victory extend Syracuse's season, it also proved how resilient this team truly was. After being down 21-10 early in the first half, Kyle Wiltjer and Damantas Sabonis seemed too much for the Orange's 2-3 zone. Aside from those two future professionals, SU held its own against the 11th-seeded Bulldogs.
Tyler Lydon and Malachi Richardson both struggled offensively, but Lydon provided six blocked shots, including the game-winner on Gonzaga's last possession. Michael Gbinije added a team-high 20 points, while Trevor Cooney tallied 15.
Jim Boeheim made countless adjustments to slow down Wiltjer after his dominate first half, but Sabonis was extremely efficient in the second half -- it just wasn't enough. Syracuse got in its full-court press late in the second half, forced a few turnovers and took the lead with 22 seconds left. After Lydon's block on Josh Perkins, the frosh went on to hit two free throws and the Orange won, 63-60.