Rushed Reactions: Syracuse 58, Georgetown 55 (OT)Posted by Brian Otskey on March 15th, 2013
Brian Otskey (@botskey) filed this report from Syracuse’s overtime victory over rival Georgetown in Friday night’s Big East semifinal at Madison Square Garden.
Three key takeaways:
- James Southerland and Trevor Cooney opened up Syracuse’s offense. Syracuse did most of its damage in the first half of this game thanks to Southerland’s continued hot shooting and Cooney’s surprising contribution off the bench. Southerland scored all 13 of his points in the first 24 minutes of the game (more on that next), not an unexpected performance from a guy who has been on fire all week. His four triples gave him 16 for the week, tying Gerry McNamara’s record from 2006. But it was Cooney who really energized the Orange in the first half. The seldom-used sophomore out of Delaware came off the bench and poured in 10 points, all before halftime. The outside success of these two players opened up a lot inside for Syracuse, a team that doesn’t look there all too often. Baye Keita had arguably his best game of the season with a lot of his production coming via the offensive glass. With Georgetown having to respect the Orange on the perimeter, it gave Keita more space to get in position for rebounds and scores. Even though Southerland and Cooney almost didn’t score at all in the second half and overtime, their success in the first half enabled Syracuse to hang on.
- Jabril Trawick’s defense on Southerland allowed Georgetown to come back. Trawick, known as Georgetown’s best defender, completely locked up the hot-shooting Southerland for the final 16 minutes of regulation and the five minute overtime, holding the Syracuse senior sharpshooter to just two field goal attempts over the final 21 minutes of action. As a team, Georgetown held Syracuse to just 28% shooting in the second frame, allowing the Hoyas to slowly chip away at the lead as regulation winded down. Georgetown made some clutch shots and free throws but team defense (and Trawick specifically) was the main reason why the Hoyas were able to force overtime.
- It was a fitting end to a classic Big East old guard rivalry. It’s sad that this all had to come to an end. These two teams put on a show for the 20,000+ fans gathered in Madison Square Garden on this semifinal Friday night and it seemed that nobody wanted this game to end. There will be a lot written about this in the days and weeks to come but this game will be a treasured memory for everyone in attendance, one that nobody will soon forget. We were all incredibly lucky to witness one final classic between two founding members of the original Big East.
Star of the Game: It’s hard not to go with Baye Keita. The 6’10” junior came into the game averaging just 3.3 PPG and 48.6% from the free throw line. Throw those stats out the window. Keita scored 13 points and pulled down eight boards, most of them at critical times, for the Orange. To add to that, he went an incredible 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. After the game, Jim Boeheim jokingly said, “I told him he’s going to shoot the technicals from now on.” It was that kind of night for the Senegal product.
Sights and Sounds: Do we really have to go into much detail on this? If you watched this game on TV or were lucky enough to be in attendance, you knew how special this night would be even before the opening tip. Madison Square Garden was absolutely electric in the final minutes of regulation and overtime as another big time event didn’t disappoint on the grandest stage of them all. In the final minutes you could barely hear the PA announcer (normally a booming voice), much less a whistle. It was an awesome environment at the last go-around for an incredible event that has provided us with countless memories over the years. From its location, to the crowd and to the acoustics, there is no place like the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Wildcard: C.J. Fair had an awful game, exemplified by his ill-advised shot on Syracuse’s last possession of regulation. Normally a high percentage shooter with a bunch of crafty moves in his arsenal, Fair could only manage a 3-of-16 performance. Despite that, Fair did manage a strong dunk with two minutes remaining in overtime that gave the Orange some much-needed breathing room down the stretch. It would be wise to expect a bounce-back game tomorrow night from this 48% shooter.
What’s Next: Syracuse will take on the winner of the Louisville/Notre Dame game at 8:30 PM ET tomorrow night. Georgetown will relax for a few days, head back to Washington, D.C. and gather in front of the television on Sunday evening to find out its NCAA Tournament opponent.