Syracuse men’s basketball outduels No. 23 N.C. State
SU men's hoops outduels NC State
With nine minutes left to play in the game, No. 23 NC State began to close in on Syracuse’s lead. The score was 56-54, the shot clock ticking away as Syracuse looked for a good opportunity.
The ball came to the hands of Jesse Edwards with a few seconds left. Edwards launched a shot from the wing, and the ball fell into the hoop right as the shot clock expired.
It was the big man’s first career 3-point attempt in his four years at Syracuse. It would have been largely forgotten had the Orange been defeated by NC State, but the three points played a crucial role in the game as Syracuse won 75-72.
“When Jesse (Edwards) makes a three, we’ve got to figure out a way to win,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.
The game got underway with the Orange winning the opening tip-off. Freshman Chris Bell soon capitalized on the opportunity by sinking a jumper for the game’s first points.
The Wolfpack quickly recovered, and the game was soon in their control. Syracuse found themselves unable to box out properly, leading to several NC State rebounds that resulted in second-chance points.
A series of sloppy possessions from the Syracuse offense allowed for NC State to go on an 11-0 run. Then, with eight minutes left, Joseph Girard III knocked down a jumper from the top of the key to end the scoring drought.
Although there was nothing special about Girard’s shot, it was all the Orange needed to steal NC State’s momentum. Soon after, Girard buried a three to cut the lead down some more.
On the ensuing N.C. State possession, SU point guard Judah Mintz took a pass mishandled by D.J. Burns Jr. down the court then lobbed it up to Maliq Brown for a thunderous alley-oop slam. The jam cut the Wolfpack lead to two points at 21-19, forcing NC State head coach Kevin Keatts to call a timeout and regroup.
Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, the timeout wasn’t enough to stop Syracuse’s momentum. The Orange soon took the lead a few minutes later, and the first half came to an end with Syracuse up 35-31.
After the first 20 minutes of play, the Wolfpack had put up a total of 16 3-point shots with only four of them going in. The Orange shot a similar 25% from deep on eight shots, but made up for it at the line. The team sank 9-of-10 free throws compared to NC State’s 1-of-2 mark.
“Teams that shoot a lot of threes don’t usually get to the line much. We need to get to the line more, especially with the way we play,” Boeheim said.
The second half soon began, but the Wolfpack didn’t start it too well. After three straight shot attempts missed the hoop, Syracuse fans erupted in “AIRBALL” chants at the NC State players. The jeers seemed to galvanize the Wolfpack into action, as they slowly began to chip away at the Syracuse lead.
With five minutes left in the game, NC State’s Terquavious Smith tied it up with a 3-pointer to make the score tied at 63’s. A minute later, Smith sank another triple in the same spot to give the Wolfpack a 3-point lead.
“(Terquavious) Smith is a tremendous shooter. We didn’t want him to get going, but he finally did, and he’s a great shooter when he does,” Boeheim said.
As the game went down to the final minute, NC State big man D.J. Burns tried to back Edwards down in the paint. Leaning into Edwards with his broad right shoulder, Burns sent Edwards tumbling to the floor, and was called for an offensive foul with the score 73-72 Syracuse. Burns was sent to the bench, fouling out of the game.
It was a crucial call. The Orange scored on the ensuing possession courtesy of two free throws from Mintz. The Wolfpack had a chance to tie the game, but couldn’t knock down a three to send the game to overtime.
The win is Syracuse’s first against a ranked team this year. It gives the team a nice confidence boost, too, as they now carry a three-game winning streak heading into the next game against Duke. The matchup against the Blue Devils will take place at the JMA Wireless Dome at 6 p.m. Saturday.