After Syracuse upset Duke 78-75 for its third win over a Top-10 opponent this year, the fans stormed the court.
The narrative for the 2016-17 Syracuse team has been that of overcoming adversity. Whether it’s been injuries or self-imposing turmoil, the Orange have had a ton to deal with. And the same was the case last night.
This time it was having to be overcome a nine-point second-half deficit against the 10th best team in the country. A team that had won seven straight games and looked every bit as good as the preseason ranking of No. 1 had indicated.
But once again, John Gillon came to the rescue. Cardiac ‘Cuse snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against rival Duke. The comeback was aided by a second-half offensive eruption. SU put up 53 points on 17-of-24 shooting. None was bigger than the game-winning shot at the buzzer by Gillon, who finished with a game-high 26 points.
This incredible win sparked the third court-storming of the season by the Orange fans. The two previous instances came in the wins over Florida State and Virginia (two teams that were ranked in the Top-10).
There was little reason for SU fans to storm the court the first two times. The two wins were critical and improbable, but this is a program that isn’t a stranger to success.
Only one coach in NCAA history has more wins than HOF’er Jim Boeheim. That coach happens to be the guy he went up against last night, Mike Krzyzewski. The SU fan base has experienced joy that would leave others envious.
But last night was different. It was the culmination of everything we had seen from Syracuse during this run that has seen it go from 3-4 in the ACC and out of contention to 9-7, starring at another potential deep run.
The team looked lifeless in the first-half. Struggling on offense does that to you. The Orange shot just 34 percent, scoring an uninspiring 25 points. They trailed by as many as 10 points.
With consecutive losses to Louisville and Georgia Tech, the tournament hopes appeared to be fading. That’s deflating for a program that is always in the conversation for winning it all.
Then the team woke up. It realized Duke didn’t really have an answer defensively for what it had to offer. Gillon, Andrew White, Tyler Lydon and Tyus Battle have individual talent that’s tough for any team to stop. And this group got its act together in the second-half.
Last night was about SU breathing life back into the fanbase. With a season-high 30,331 fans in attendance, it was the perfect time to do it.
The recipe for SU has been a dangerous one. Play poorly in the first-half. Go into the half with a double-digit deficit, but use a late fury to win a game you should’ve lost.
In many eyes, the latest one booked Syracuse’s trip to the NCAA tournament. There’s still a ways to go, but the fans absolutely deserved to celebrate last night. And it just so happened to be on Jim Boeheim court.