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With 0.8 seconds left in double-overtime, and the game tied at 110, Joe Girard III braced himself and took a deep breath. Hours earlier, he had notched four first-half turnovers when he made what he called “stupid plays” by throwing passes to teammates who weren’t quite there. Days earlier, he looked off after mold in the air conditioning vent of his Bahamas hotel room aggravated his asthma during SU’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament games.
But at that moment — one he said he’d experienced numerous times before, most recently in the state championship of his senior year of high school — Girard sank the free throw that counted, and the next one too, lifting SU to a 112-110 victory against Indiana.
“Just keep playing,” Girard said of his mindset. “I’m just staying confident and making sure that I’m making the right plays, and what’s in the past is in the past. Got to move forward.”
Syracuse had watched an 18-point first-half lead evaporate. It re-established itself, only to watch an eight-point lead with one minute left in regulation evaporate as well. Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis slammed down multiple dunks and sank two free throws in the final five seconds to force overtime.
But it was Buddy Boeheim in double-overtime who rescued the Orange once and for all. Moments after backup center Frank Anselem nailed four of four clutch free throws to level the game at 101, Buddy swished two throws that he said boosted his confidence. Then the Orange let Buddy isolate his defender, and he hit a jumper along the baseline and drove once more to lay one in off the glass.
“I said clear out this side, let me get to my spot,” Buddy said. “Just trying to take over the game, get easy buckets, and I felt like I was getting to my spots the whole game. And it was just a matter of seeing them go down, and they did at the right time.”
Buddy nearly threw away the victory he manufactured when he committed a shooting foul on a 3-point attempt with seven seconds left, allowing Indiana to level the game at 110, but Girard’s free throws handed the Hoosiers (6-1) their first defeat of the season. Syracuse (4-3) avoided falling below .500 through its first seven games, which would’ve been the program’s worst start since 1968. Instead, the Orange looked as convincing as they have in 2021 in the first half and then continued to battle down the stretch of what turned into a rollercoaster game.
“I just thought this was a will to win the game and the overtimes. When you blow a lead like that … and you still go on to win it, it’s really hard to overcome that. These guys just stuck to it,” head coach Jim Boeheim said.
With the game tied at 97 in the first overtime period, Girard lofted a 3-pointer that rimmed out with 10 seconds left. He said the IU defense “blew up (SU’s) action,” and he was forced to chuck an undesigned shot up to avoid a shot clock violation.
But the Orange’s defensive stop bailed them out and stretched the game into a second overtime period. Indiana took the lead once more, but that’s when Buddy took over. The SU star said his defender fouled out, and he felt confident that the new defender wouldn’t be alert enough to stop him.
“I felt confident and felt like I was going to score no matter what, and you need to have that as a player in crunch time,” said Buddy, who finished with 27 points and eight assists. He added that the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament — where SU played three games in three days — helped him withstand fatigue that would’ve otherwise set in by double-overtime on Tuesday.
Syracuse only reached two overtimes, however, because it collapsed at the end of the second half. In the final seconds of regulation, Indiana trailed 88-86 when Benny Williams lept for a missed free throw. The freshman fouled Jackson-Davis, who sank both shots and extended the game. Boeheim said that the moment wouldn’t have even happened had his starting center, Jesse Edwards, not fouled out moments prior.
“You need to get the rebound,” Boeheim said of Williams. “Benny didn’t jump. He just stood there, and the guy got the rebound and he fouled him.”
In the first half, Syracuse jumped out to a double-digit lead courtesy of 16-first half points off 13 Indiana turnovers. The Hoosiers ultimately finished with 26 turnovers. IU won the opening tip-off but Edwards stole it within seconds, and Jimmy Boeheim turned it into a drive and two-point lay-in. An Edwards block turned into a 3-pointer from Jimmy at the top of the arc, resulting in three of his 26 points.
Syracuse’s early success paired with a horrendous early shooting performance from Indiana that meant a commanding first-half lead for the Orange. But IU made halftime adjustments, capitalizing on the corners and using mid-range shots that dissected the SU zone to convert 2-pointers. The Hoosiers started hitting their open corner-3s, ones they missed in the first half.
In the second half, Indiana opened with a 12-3 run to close Syracuse’s lead to single digits, led by three open 3-pointers by Parker Stewart. Buddy and Girard each missed two 3-pointers in the same five-minute stretch to open the half.
By midway through the second half, SU was 4-of-13 from the field, and its lead was gone. Syracuse’s fouls started to accumulate when Cole Swider lost the ball and committed his fourth foul. He later fouled out in double-overtime. Edwards posted an impressive dunk after Buddy dished a ball inside but then got dunked on moments later by Jackson-Davis and got whistled for his third foul. Edwards fouled out with moments left in regulation.
Girard committed four first-half turnovers, matching his assist total during the period. At one point after he missed a pass along the sideline, a fan shouted “Wake up, Joe.” He missed Buddy on the sideline and tried to cut downhill in the lane, but he hit the wrong man and forced Jimmy to foul.
But when it mattered most, despite the struggles, the on-and-off performance and what Boeheim said was “congestion” that slowed Girard down during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the point guard stepped up when it mattered most, making the game’s winning free throws.
The post Syracuse wins rollercoaster 2OT game over Indiana 112-110 despite blown leads appeared first on The Daily Orange.