The Orange comes from behind to pull out an 89-81 victory in overtime against the 23rd ranked Kansas Jayhawks to win the College Basketball Experience Tuesday night.
Well, at least the game started on Tuesday, but it wouldn't end until after midnight. It sure didn't look like it was going to be a late night after the first half though. Kansas came out and dominated the first 20 minutes of action.
After an Arinze Onuaku free throw put the ‘Cuse down by one with 12 minutes left in the half, Kansas went on a 9-0 run. All nine points came from freshman guard Tayshawn Taylor and helped the Jayhawks maintain an edge throughout the first half.
But SU would chip away at that lead, as an Eric Devendorf three-pointer and a fastbreak slam from Jonny Flynn cut the lead down to three. The Orange trailed by that margin with about a minute and half left, but let Kansas build up its lead again by allowing a quick 8-0 run.
Syracuse's offense wasn't very good as it shot under 35 percent from the field. That was mainly because of the 10 turnovers which did not allow the offense to get into any kind of rhythm. On top of that, Paul Harris had a donut in the scoring column and the only one in double figures was Devendorf who had 11 points.
Coming out of the locker room trailing 41-30, Syracuse couldn't do much to climb back into the game. When they got down by six a few times, Kansas would hit another shot to put it back up to nine. About five minutes into the second half, the Jayhawks Tyrell Reed hit a three to give Kansas a 13 point advantage, its biggest of the night. But the next five minutes changed the game dramatically.
After leaving too many shooters open, SU head Coach Jim Boeheim decided to come out of the 2-3 zone and let his guys play man. Jonny Flynn said he would get his coach to play more man-to-man and the move paid off. The Orange defense forced three turnovers which all led to easy fastbreak baskets including a slam by Flynn that got him and the team fired up.
The 13-1 run by SU knotted the game at 54 with ten minutes to go. Syracuse would take a very brief lead after a trey from Andy Rautins. But Kansas grabbed back the advantage and momentum, increasing its lead to seven with fewer than four minutes on the clock. But Flynn wasn't going to let his team lose.
A three pointer cut it down to four, and then SU's leader hit four free throws in the final minute and half to tie the game at 69 apiece. With about 30 seconds to go and the Orange trying to answer a Jayhawks basket, Flynn turned the ball over and it looked like Kansas was going in for an easy layup. But Harris raced down the court and swatted Sharon Collins' shot into the stands. A missed free throw by Kansas made it a three point game with less than 20 seconds to go. With the game on the line, who was going to take the shot for the Orange? It would be Jonny Flynn who buried one from downtown to send the game into overtime.
With SU ahead by three with under two minutes remaining in the OT, Rautins pulled the trigger and sunk one from behind the arc to push Syracuse over the hump as the Orange extended its lead to nine to seal the victory.
Some other observations from Syracuse's 89-81 win over Kansas:
· After a dreadful first half with ten turnovers, Syracuse only gave away the ball five times in the second period of play. Also, SU shot a blistering 58.3 percent from the field.
· When SU was down by 13 points, Kansas looked like it was in complete control. Give credit to Boeheim for switching to man defense. I'm sure others wanted to see it sooner, but at least he adjusted and his players responded to the challenge with three steals.
· If it hasn't been said enough, I'll say it again. Jonny Flynn is the straw that stirs the drink. This year he was supposed to get a break, right? Well he played 43 out of a possible 45 minutes. Once again leads his team in scoring with 25 points, and so many of them came at the most critical stretches of the game. He hit four free throws to tie the game in the last minute. And the three point shot to send the game into overtime was money. Flynn was named the tournament's most outstanding player and it was well deserved. He may be the best point guard in the nation.
· While Flynn deserves a lot of praise, so too do Paul Harris and Arinze Onuaku. Both had double-doubles for the second consecutive night. AO is beginning to get more confident with his offensive game and is capable of taking over the paint. And what can you say about Harris? People say he doesn't fit into a position. Well, he doesn't need to. He just plays ball. The guy hustles every minute and is so strong that he creates match-up problems for the opponent.
· That's the first time Kansas has been beaten in Kansas City since January 2, 1983.
Syracuse (5-0) has a few days off before it takes on Virginia at the Carrier Dome on Friday.