SU Men's Basketball: Syracuse vs No. 6 FSU

Syracuse men's basketball holds on for upset of No. 6 Florida State

SU tops the Seminoles, 82-72, for first victory over ranked opponent this season

If there was one word to describe Syracuse's matchup against Florida State on Saturday afternoon, it’d be perseverance. It was displayed by both teams, but ultimately the Orange came out on top.

Andrew White III scored a game high 24 points, John Gillon added 21 and 11 assists, and Tyler Lydon chipped in with 14 and 11 rebounds as the Syracuse Orange (13-9, 5-4 ACC) took down No. 6 Florida State (18-4, 6-3 ACC) by a final score of 82-72.

Photo: Bryan Cereijo

Syracuse jumped all over Florida State right from the opening tip and dominated the first half. The Orange took a 9-2 lead early, forcing Seminoles’ coach Leonard Hamilton to call a timeout.

But Florida State came storming back. After a few turnovers and Syracuse misses, Florida State tied it up at nine with around 12 minutes left in the period.

Eventually, Syracuse started pulling away behind defense, aggressiveness, and an energetic crowd of nearly 25,000.

Syracuse forced 11 turnovers in the first half, many of which led to easy baskets. The guards got in the paint and made plays. With under eight minutes to play, Frank Howard (2 points, 2 assists) found forward Tyler Roberson in transition for two and the guard found Roberson again about a minute later for another basket. Howard scored his only basket after a defensive trap forced a Seminoles turnover which led to a a short jumper in the lane.

Tyus Battle (9 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) was also aggressive and made big plays. With just under 6 minutes left in the first half, the freshman finished a strong drive and then found Roberson for an alley-oop at the 4:30 mark. About 30 seconds later, Gillon found Roberson for an and-one. Roberson finished with 10 first-half points and Syracuse headed into halftime leading  44-26.

“It was a real good effort, best first half we’ve had in a long time,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.

But, Florida State came out of the break and made it a ballgame.

Threes were wild for the Seminoles to open the second half as Johnathan Isaac, Dwayne Bacon, and Xavier Rathan-Mayes all knocked down early 3-pointers.

Isaac, in particular, scored 7 points in the first three minutes following halftime, and scored 16 of his 19 in the period. At the 16:17 mark, Boeheim called a timeout after the Seminoles cut the Orange lead to just 49-41.

But again, the perseverance of the Orange was displayed. Out of the timeout, Lydon grabbed an offensive board and found Gillon for a 3-pointer to put Syracuse back up by double-digits.

But then Florida State battled back again. Rathan-Mayes knocked down a triple at the 12:22 mark, making it a 54-51 game. But, White answered with a three to double Syracuse’s lead. 

A three by Battle put the Orange up seven, but then a dunk by Isaac and a Bacon make from deep cut the lead to two at the 9:12 mark.

The game would stay close, but a momentum boast helped the Orange keep the lead.

With just over eight minutes left in the game, Gillon found Battle in the corner in transition. Battle missed but Tyler Lydon, who noticed that nobody from Florida State was getting back on defense, crashed the glass and delivered a rim-rattling one handed putback slam.

“It feels good to make a play like that, especially in front of the home fans,” Lydon said.

Florida State continued to push. Bacon knocked down a three with just under two minutes to go, making it a two-point game again.

But from there, it was the John Gillon show. He answered Bacon’s 3-pointer with a layup followed by eight straight makes from the line to put the game out of reach. Gillon finished the contest hitting 13-of-14 from the charity stripe.

“I’m trying to lead as a point guard,” Gillon said. “I have to in that position. I’m calling the plays, I’m telling them what I see, so if I’m not being a leader, the team’s in trouble.”

Gillon said he’s seen the team’s energy pick-up over the last two games.

“I just see us playing with more passion,” he said. “I see guys like Robe [Roberson] and Andrew [White] who are a little more reserved coming out of their shell on certain plays and we’re all just starting to gel as a team.”

Boeheim still wants to see improvement from his team on the defensive end, but overall he seemed pleased with the effort.

“We had a couple good stops right at the end, forced them into an off balance three, but our defense was exceptional in the first half,” he said. “In the second half we just didn’t have that same defensive effort.”

The victory gives Syracuse its first win over a ranked opponent this season. It also moves SU’s record to 13-2 at home. The win marks two consecutive against RPI top-30 teams, and puts Syracuse at seventh in the ACC.

But, the Orange still have not won a game away from the Carrier Dome this year. 

“You never want to get too comfortable, especially playing in the ACC,” White said. “We got a good team waiting for us next week and we have something that we have to prove to people on the road.”

Syracuse will return to action on Wednesday at North Carolina State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.