SU Men's Basketball: Syracuse vs Georgia Tech

White leads Syracuse men's basketball past Georgia Tech

Graduate transfer tallies 40 points on senior day as Orange top Yellow Jackets, 90-61.

For a few minutes, it looked like Georgia Tech (17-14, 8-10) was going to give Syracuse men’s basketball a taste of its own medicine. Syracuse had a 12-point lead at halftime – an advantage that was as large as 16 points with over a minute left in the first half. But, this time it seemed as if the Yellow Jackets would be the second half comeback team.

Photo: Codie Yan
John Gillon shoots for Syracuse during Saturday's win over Georgia Tech.

After a Ben Lammers layup, a Tadric Jackson made jumper, a 3-pointer from Quinton Stephens, and a layup from Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech cut the Syracuse lead to just three points, 38-35, with 17:40 left to play.

But that’s as close as the Yellow Jackets would get to a comeback. And on his senior day in the Carrier Dome, Andrew White III gave the 30,448 fans something to remember.

With a Jackson layup in between, White answered the comeback attempt by knocking down two 3-pointers, giving Syracuse a little breathing room at 44-37. A triple from Tyler Lydon (7 points, 13 rebounds) with 12:34 to go gave the Orange an eight-point lead, opening the flood gates.

Josh Heath responded with a three pointer of his own, only to be outdone by White who hit back-to-back 3-pointers again to give Syracuse an 11-point lead. Syracuse shot 65 percent from deep in the game as a team.

The Orange lead would not see single-digits again, as Syracuse (18-13, 10-8) breezed past Georgia Tech, 90-61.

White led all scorers with 40 points on eight of nine shooting from downtown. Seven of his three’s and 29 of his points came in the second half. The graduate transfer had been held to seven points in each of his last two games, his lowest totals since recording just two points against St. Johns on Dec. 21.

“One of the best shooting performances that I’ve seen,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said about White’s performance.

But despite his shooting clinic, White was quick to defer the attention to the team.

“It was a good way to go out,” he said. “More importantly we got a win.”

White was the beneficiary of multiple assists from John Gillon, who tallied ten total in the game. But it took some encouragement from White to start getting the ball more.

“[White] told me that I’m not looking for him enough,” Gillon said. “So I was like ‘That’s on me.’ Gave him five passes in a row and hit them all.”

If Syracuse had not opened up such a large lead early in the game, the push by Georgia Tech to begin the second half could have been a lot more dangerous.

Syracuse won the opening tip and scored first on a jumper from Taurean Thompson. A 3-pointer from Tyus Battle was followed with a jumper from White to give the Orange a quick seven-point lead out of the gates.

Battle knocked down two more from deep, Thompson joined the action from behind the arc, and Syracuse had a 12-point lead at the 15:07 mark.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me for open threes,” Battle said. “I just had to knock it down when I was open.”

The lead extended to 15 on a slam from Tyler Roberson at the 5:55 mark and reached 16 later in the half on a layup from Gillon.

Syracuse’s zone forced eight Georgia Tech turnovers and 22 percent shooting from three in the first half. Okogie, who played much of the first half with two fouls, only scored eight in the first period, while Lammers only scored six.

Okogie, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, still finished with 16, and Lammers was only one rebound shy of a double-double (10 points). In comparison to the last game between the two schools in February when Lammers dropped 23 points, the defensive effort was much improved.

Syracuse’s second half lead, which stretched as large as 29 with 1:43 left, allowed players with few minutes to play, specifically DaJuan Coleman and Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye. One could have predicted that Tyler Roberson (4 points, 3 rebounds in 24 minutes) was going to play significant minutes along with White and Gillon on senior day, but Coleman and Akintobi-Adeyeye were not a guarantee.

Coleman struggled to move around in his three minutes due to his lingering knee problems. He gave it one last go at home, but the big man recorded no stats. Akintobi-Adeyeye, however, was active in his one minute of play, grabbing three rebounds and finishing a layup in traffic.

“Doyin has been a great guy, great practice player,” said Boeheim. “He’s improved more than anybody on our team. He’s not bad now.”

For Coleman, injuries have derailed his basketball career, limiting him to only 17 games this season. But Boeheim offered nothing but praise for his fifth year player.

“He’s a great kid,” Boeheim said. “He’s as good a kid as we’ve ever had in the program. I think he could’ve been a really good player, but not with those knees.”

Coleman said it was meaningful to get some final action in front of the home fans.

“It meant a lot, just getting in the game,” Coleman said. “My last go around, and hearing the crowd was in it, the fans, everybody was chanting my name. It was a special feeling.”

With the regular season over, Syracuse finishes eighth in the conference. The Orange will face ninth-seeded Miami in the ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Tip-off is at noon on Wednesday.  

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