Sidibe helps shift momentum in improbable Syracuse victory

first_img Published on March 12, 2020 at 1:41 am Contact Josh: | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+ UPDATED: March 13, 2020 at 10:38 a.m.GREENSBORO, N.C. — It all started with a Cole Anthony mishap turned Syracuse positive. As the freshman guard battled not to lose the ball, he elbowed Bourama Sidibe in the nose. Video review pushed the foul a step further, and Sidibe sank the ensuing technical free-throw.A potential top-10 draft pick’s failure led to free throw success for a player who normally shoots just above 50% from the line. It was an improbable night in Greensboro Coliseum, one of those nights in March where the runs stack together unexpectedly and the outcome is far from what was predicted. It ended with a 81-53 Syracuse victory over North Carolina, the largest loss for the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament.North Carolina (14-19, 6-14 Atlantic Coast), favored by 3.5 points before the game and scorer’s of 92 points in the first meeting, never found a rhythm on offense. While the Tar Heels hit on one-third of their field goal attempts, Syracuse (18-14, 10-10) pushed transition off rebounds. It led to lob passes and alley-oop finishes. Open 3-pointers and easy 2-point buckets. In a game Syracuse needed to win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, the Orange’s 15-0 run sparked by Sidibe’s foul shots built a lead too big for the Orange to fall behind again.“We got a great start and then we were able to keep up and keep going,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt’s hard to tell what this means for Syracuse amid a hectic day of coronavirus updates around the country that included a suspension of the NBA season and an NCAA Tournament without fans. Syracuse-North Carolina was the last game in front of fans at the ACC Tournament and the rest remains unknown. If the tournament continues, Syracuse will enter a matchup with Louisville following one of its most complete performances of the year.Syracuse players said Wednesday’s performance started on the defensive end. In the first matchup against UNC, the Tar Heels sank 11 3-pointers, including seven from Anthony. On Wednesday they hit 2-of-16. Syracuse hedged out more often than it had in February and dared North Carolina to score from elsewhere. The Tar Heels couldn’t.Passes went out of bounds or into Syracuse players hands, and the Orange ran wild with the ball down the court. An Elijah Hughes intercepted pass lead to a goaltend in the first half and Quincy Guerrier second-chance points in the second half. A Brycen Goodine steal led to his own points on the fast break and so did Sidibe’s takeaway through the technical foul.“That changed the momentum,” Buddy Boeheim said of the technical foul. “Once we got to double digits we just got a string of stops and Elijah was just going to work….we just kind of rode it out and saw what they could do.”The run didn’t technically start with Sidibe, though Syracuse players attributed that moment as the moment shifter. The run that extended Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament hopes for another 24 hours started with a Quincy Guerrier offensive rebound and subsequent foul shots with 4:56 remaining in the first half. In less than five minutes, all five Syracuse players on the court contributed points and a six-point lead turned to 21.The highlight of it all was a lob pass from Joseph Girard III (8 assists) to Guerrier. Girard saw Guerrier a step in front of his defender and said he just wanted to place the ball near the rim. The pass looked open. His teammate Elijah Hughes disagreed.“No, no, no!” Girard heard behind him as the pass floated near the basket.But it worked. Guerrier flew in from the left of the basket and flushed home the score. Down the other end of the court, North Carolina took another mid-range jump shot and clanked it off the backboard and rim once more. Backup point guard Howard Washington turned to the Carolina fans heckling him from behind the bench and smiled.Washington and the rest of the players were standing up from the bench and gawking at what seemed like an unstoppable offense. Girard caught a pass in the corner and drilled a 3-pointer.He threw a giant fist pump and yelled “Let’s go!”“Sometimes we haven’t got as many stops as we should’ve or needed to be able to (run in transition),” Girard said. “But when we do it’s pretty fun…The easiest 3 is off an offensive bound or on a fast break, when guys aren’t back or guys aren’t set.”Throughout the year when Hughes propels into scoring sprees he can usually point to the shot that started it all. Against Carolina the final shot of the first half was when he knew. As the forward “found his spot” just off the elbow and faded away, he knew.He was rolling, but so was Syracuse. The night was different. It felt like in the locker room halftime, and that rang true through a second half that was nearly irrelevant following the first half cushion.“We know that we hadn’t beat them in a long time,” Hughes said, “We just kind of wanted to come out there with that kind of mindset.”CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Syracuse’s record was misstated. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Commentslast_img

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