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Wednesday, Feb 26, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Syracuse Fights Off Georgia Tech to End Losing Streak, Get Back On Right Path

By Mason Horodyski

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

The wheels looked like they were finally starting to fall off the past few games for the Syracuse Men’s basketball team. After dropping three straight games, one of which saw a Syracuse record set for a freshman scoring performance in the form of Joe Girard III, it was looking like no matter how hard they fought, that this season was just about over.

But then Saturday happened.

Coming into their game at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, the Orange (15-12, 8-8 Atlantic Coast) were getting ready to square off with Georgia Tech (13-14, 7-9 Atlantic Coast), the team they had beaten by 34 points earlier in the season on December 7th. While the Orange got off to a hot start in the first half of their first meeting, the tables turned this time around.

Georgia Tech started the game dominating Syracuse inside the paint. Junior big man Moses Wright was a massive problem for the Orange, scoring 17 of his 33 just in the first half. Plus, foul trouble was yet again a narrative for a shallow Syracuse bench. As the Orange jogged off into the locker room down 38-27 at the half, the second-largest on-campus crowd this year for the Orange were relatively quiet for an audience of 26,661. It seemed like Syracuse was all but ready to have to deal with their longest losing streak this season. But the Orange Came out scorching hot the next half.

Joe Girard III quickly got things started for Syracuse in the second half with a three-pointer a little over a minute into the half. That would kick off a 7-0 run for Syracuse that lit the fuse for an offensive explosion the rest of the half. The Orange would go on to snap their losing skid and steal one from the Yellow Jackets 79-72 thanks to a fiery second half offense from the Orange. Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj led the way offensively, each scoring 20.

While a win against a now 14-15 team doesn’t seem like a game-changer at a surface level, this was a massive win for the Orange going forward. If Syracuse had lost here, Georgia Tech would have jumped them in the ACC Rankings. No matter where the Orange finish this season, they need to hold on to the highest seed they can get for the ACC Tournament. In an underperforming year for the ACC, the tournament, and the road to an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, there is no clear favorite for this season. This game proved that Syracuse, despite putting up narratives that they are a team that can’t win without staying out of foul trouble, being down at the half, or being overall outsized by much larger ACC programs, still has some fight left in them.

If they want a shot to dance in March, they’ll need to, at the very least, win out the remainder of their ACC schedule. They need to beat two teams they have already beaten, one of the worst UNC teams in recent memory, and a barely above .500 Miami Hurricanes squad. Much like how they played in their game against Georgia tech, this cockroach-like Syracuse team is still not dead just yet. Can Cardiac Cuse pull off another surprise? If they do, it will need to be perfect.

mkhorody@syr.edu | @MasonHorodyski