The struggling Syracuse Orange shocked the basketball world on Saturday with their miraculous upset of the #6 Florida State Seminoles.
Coming off a victory over Wake Forest, the Orange came out swinging in the first half against the Seminoles. They starting the game off playing better than they have all season. All the issues they previously had with rebounding and defense were seemingly erased. Syracuse showed flashes of the 2-3 zone that carried them through the NCAA Tournament to the Final Four last season. Along with the stellar defense, the Orange were also incredibly efficient on offense. Down by 1 point at the nine-minute mark of the first half, the Orange ended the half on an astounding 31-12 run to go into halftime with an 18-point lead.
Down 44-26, the Seminoles came out of the half fired up. They completely turned around their play from the first half and began the second on a 15-5 run. As well as the Orange were playing, they were unable to keep up with a very talented and motivated Florida State team. Jonathan Isaac led this offensive surge for the Seminoles. The star freshman scored only 5 points in the first half, earning “overrated” chants from some Syracuse students. This seemed to light a fire under Isaac as he then exploded for 14 of his 19 total points.
Florida State cut what was at one point an 18-point lead to 3 points with 12 minutes left. The Seminoles had pulled back within 2 when Tyler Lydon threw down a thunderous put back dunk off a Tyus Battle missed three to put the Orange up 62-58.
With the Orange leading 69-67, John Gillon took over, scoring the team’s last 13 points (11 coming from the free throw line). The Seminoles fought until the very end but it wasn’t enough and Syracuse earned its first victory over a ranked opponent since their Elite Eight win over #4 Virginia last season.
Syracuse was led by huge games from Andrew White and Tyler Lydon. Following his massive game against Wake Forest, Andrew White returned with another good performance. The grad transfer nearly had a double-double with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Lydon gave one of his best performances of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-tying 6 blocks. While it isn’t shown by the box score, Tyus Battle was also an important part of the Syracuse victory. Battle was a key component of the Orange defense that shut down the offensively talented Seminoles for most of the game.
Next, the Orange travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to take on Dennis Smith and the NC State Wolfpack. Tipoff is set for 7 pm on Wednesday night.