What we learned from Syracuse’s 82-81 last-second win over Clemson

first_imgEditor’s note: The Daily Orange was not at the Clemson game Tuesday night. Our reporters are providing coverage after watching the game on TV.Squaring off with another opponent on the NCAA Tournament bubble, it took Syracuse (16-9, 8-4 Atlantic Coast) until its final possession to edge Clemson (13-10, 3-8) on the road, 82-81. Tyus Battle hit a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer to secure SU’s fifth straight win, the Orange’s second-longest winning streak of the season.Here are three things we learned from Tuesday’s game.Syracuse is a proven comeback threatSU demonstrated its mettle once again by coming back from a double-digit deficit for the third consecutive game. The first two wins — in overtime at North Carolina State and at home against then-No. 9 Virginia — didn’t have quite as exciting finishes, but Tuesday’s result was a substantial step forward for Syracuse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFacing a 12-point hole at one point in the first half, SU rebounded and cut the deficit to two by halftime. The Orange looked a lot like it did earlier this season, struggling to work the ball inside and lacking any rhythm on defense, but it transformed in the game’s final 20 minutes.When Andrew White couldn’t replicate his sharpshooting first half, Taurean Thompson emerged as a go-to threat in the paint. When Syracuse needed a big defensive play in the game’s final minutes, White picked off an inbounds play that resulted in a two-point possession. When SU needed to hold it together against a Tigers team that made 6-of-11 3-pointers in the second half, it did just enough.“We’ve just been making really good plays down the stretch,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said in his postgame press conference. “We’ve been behind. We’re used to it.”Even when he’s not his best, Tyler Lydon is still a key cogIt’s no secret that Lydon can easily be Syracuse’s best player on both ends of the floor. He’s been just that for most of this season. Tuesday was a step down from the steady play Lydon has showcased all season, turning the ball over a team-high five times. But against Clemson, Lydon proved how vital he can be even when he doesn’t play as polished as he usually does.With SU losing by two and a minute remaining, Lydon had the ball stripped out of his hands near the baseline. Clemson’s Avery Holmes knocked it out of Lydon’s grasp and it ricocheted off his leg and out of bounds. If Clemson scored on the other end, making it a two-possession game, it would have been a game-ending turnover. But the Tigers didn’t.When White snagged a Clemson inbound and dished it to Lydon, he was fouled and hit both fouls shots to tie the game at 79. Then on the game’s final possession, Lydon barreled down the paint and looked like he was going to elevate for a contested layup. Instead, at the last moment he found Battle open in the corner, notching only his second assist of the game on the buzzer-beating 3-pointer. By any stretch, it wasn’t Lydon’s best game. It was just good enough.MORE COVERAGE Superlatives from Syracuse’s 82-81 victory over ClemsonTyus Battle hits buzzer-beating 3 to give Syracuse 82-81 win over ClemsonFan reactions from Syracuse’s win over Clemson “There’s not many centers that can make that last play: Get in the lane and find the guy wide open,” Boeheim said. “Usually a guy will take a bad shot in that situation. He played like a point guard.”Taurean Thompson is capable of taking the reins of the offenseThe 6-foot-11 freshman has shown all season how well he can command the post. But given how much SU relied on its outside shooters in the first half, Thompson’s strengths were only played up in the second stanza. He scored all 14 of his points in the final 20 minutes, including 12 of the Orange’s first 15 second-half points.“He can score,” Boeheim said of Thompson, “he’s just got realize he can get close to the basket.”Thompson was a force on the offensive glass. He converted all three of his offensive rebounds into baskets, and two into three-point plays. Syracuse relied on him in the second half like it relied on White in the first. Earlier this year, when White’s performance trickled off in the second half, no one else compensated. Tuesday it was Thompson, and that’s a large part of why the Orange has now won five straight. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on February 7, 2017 at 11:45 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img

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