Syracuse utilizes full-court press late to capture thrilling comeback win over Virginia Tech

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ It was almost all for nothing.Syracuse was scrambling and sweating for more than five minutes, but its go-for-broke full-court press still left it down two points with 19 seconds to go.At that point, the Orange had exhausted all of its options and the game came down to two Michael Gbinije free throws, a backcourt violation and a Gbinije floater that gave SU the final lead of the game and sent the Carrier Dome crowd into a full-on frenzy.And while Gbinije’s last four points were the punctuation mark of a 13-point comeback in the guts of the game, a concerted defensive effort made it all possible.“To make those plays was, I think, it was incredible,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “… It wasn’t just smooth.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse (15-7, 6-3 Atlantic Coast) forced eight turnovers in the final 5:31 of the game and edged Virginia Tech (9-13, 1-8) for a 72-70 win on Tuesday night. By pressing from around the six-minute mark to the end of the game, the Orange buried its defensive deficiencies and forced the Hokies into a pace they couldn’t play at.“When we turned the press on, it turned us up,” SU guard Ron Patterson said. “… We started getting the loose balls, they started turning the ball over and we started getting in transition.”But in the 34 minutes before Syracuse jumped into its press, it could do nothing to stop the Hokies in the halfcourt.The Orange successfully erased Virginia Tech’s shooters by extending the top of its 2-3 zone in the first half, but created a more reliable scoring option in the process.Instead of forcing shots over SU’s scrambling guards, the Hokies — who came into Tuesday’s game as the ACC’s third-best 3-point shooting team — utilized the gaping hole at the free-throw line.It was a hole big enough for Justin Bibbs to consistently sit in and Jalen Hudson to consistently knife through, and it helped Virginia Tech stay within four at the half.Then out of the break, the Hokies traded the high post for the 3-point line and reverted to its usual ways. VT made its first six 3s of the frame which helped it build a sizable lead as the game wound down.“In a 2-3 zone you can’t take everything away, pretty much any defense you can’t take everything away,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “… You want to force them into (the high post) but you don’t want to give them open 3s.”Yet Syracuse never had to figure out how to stop the Hokies in their halfcourt sets. Instead, the Orange sped up the game with its full-court press and Cooney summed up the tactical change in 20 words.“We weren’t really making shots…”SU shot 1-of-12 from 3 in the second half, many of which were open looks.“… we needed something to help go our way…”The Orange already has seven losses with three coming in the conference, and falling to an unranked opponent could be the last straw on the optimal March plans.“… and to jumpstart that normally, you press.”Bingo.Boeheim started cycling in players — Patterson, B.J. Johnson and Tyler Roberson repeatedly ran from the bench to the scorer’s table in the final five minutes — to keep the defense fresh and SU remarkably put itself in position to win. A four-point spurt from Gbinije then made the all-out effort worthwhile.In the locker room after the game, Syracuse players shoveled popcorn into their mouths while they recounted a five-minute stretch that, for now, keeps their season intact.In the end, the win was quite a show.“I’ve been in a lot of games and I’m probably going to overstate this,” Boeheim said. “But the way we were, where we were, they got four guards out there and we’re a little bit tired.“This comeback ranks up there with any that I’ve ever been a part of.” Comments Published on February 4, 2015 at 12:49 am Contact Jesse: [email protected] | @dougherty_jesselast_img

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