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Syracuse survived and advanced. But it was close.
It took some luck, some scoring, but more importantly some solid defense. It looked a little suspect there, but Syracuse mounted a major comeback, finishing the game on a 9-2 run, that sealed the win for Syracuse. A game that no one thought Syracuse would be in, let alone want Syracuse to win. But they did it. And Syracuse advances to the Elite 8 over Gonzaga 63 to 60.
  • The leading scorer for Syracuse was again Michael Gbinije, who finished with 20 points. He really got going in the 2nd half for Syracuse, taking over the game. He missed the go ahead basket, but thanks to a tip from Tyler Roberson, Gbinije was able to get the ball and make the go ahead layup with about 21 seconds to go.
  • Trevor Cooney had one of his best games in a long time. He finished with 15 points, going 5-9, 1-2 from the floor, and 4-4 at the free throw line. He also had 2 steals (but really should have been 3 [more on this later]), all within the last 2 minutes of the game to help take the lead and win the game for Syracuse. I've been down on Trevor for a long time, but this was a very well played game for Trevor. He drove the ball to the basket, didn't take too many bad shots, and played excellent defense.
  • Malachi Richardson didn't really ever get going in this game, but he did finish with 10 points, and made a huge 3 to shift the momentum with 3:28 to go in the game.
  • Tyler Lydon didn't have a great offensive game either, but he had 6 blocks, one of which was the true game sealing block. He then actually grabbed the ball and was fouled, making both free throws to put Syracuse up 3 with under 2 seconds to play.
  • Tyler Roberson had 9 points in the game, but more importantly he had 12 rebounds. A huge effort against maybe the best center Syracuse has faced all season.
  • Frank Howard had an impressive showing at the point guard position in this game. He had a huge 3 pointer, and made some great passes to facilitate the offense.\
  • This game should have been over with 12 seconds to go. Cooney made a steal in the corner but Doug Sirmons, the official 20 feet away on the sideline (in the Center position), and not the baseline official, blew the whistle and determined that he was out of bounds. This was the official on the baseline's call (the Lead position), and while the center official can make that call, it needs to be 100% and everyone in the building should know it, if the lead isn't going to call it. This was not the time to make that call. And because of it it almost cost Syracuse the chance to win the game. The play was not reviewable. I have a feeling Doug Sirmonds is done for this season and that the NCAA will look to make if a player steps out of bounds reviewable next season.
  • Gonzaga shot the ball better in this game than Syracuse, both overall and inside the arc. But Syracuse made the shots when it mattered the most.
  • Syracuse kept the rebounding numbers close, but despite a hell of an effort from Roberson, Gonzaga lead in rebound 37 to 33.
  • Syracuse forced 17 Gonzaga turnovers, several in the critical stretch at the end of the game. SU only had 9 themselves.
  • Gonzaga only attempted 5 free throws, making 4. Syracuse made 14-16 (87.5%).
Syracuse outlasted Gonzaga to match up against Virginia, a team that Syracuse knows well. This game should be interesting, but for now Syracuse is in the Elite 8. All you can do is win the games you have on the schedule, and Syracuse has done that. To the benefit of Orange fans everywhere.

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