Syracuse and Georgetown went toe-to-toe Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in what surely prompted some feeling of nostalgia for fans of the old Big East. With Patrick Ewing coaching the Hoyas, Jim Boeheim coaching the Orange and a game settled in the final seconds, Cuse came out on top 72-71.
There were five lead changes in the final 159 seconds of game action and nine for the game between the two former conference rivals, but Syracuse star Tyus Battle, who came alive in the second half, fittingly drove home the dagger with 2.5 seconds left to seal the win for the Orange. Battle finished with a game-high 26 points.
Georgetown has to feel sick all the way home after the way this one ended. Giving up the dagger in the final seconds stings, no doubt, but at half it appeared the Hoyas were in firm control. They led by 13 points at halftime and as many as 15 in the second half, but Syracuse looked like a different team down the stretch. Battle's 21 points and resurrection from a rare shooting slump played as big a factor as any.
Although the Hoyas gave up their cushy first half lead and ultimately fell flat of clinching a big road win, they did not go quietly. Jessie Govan, Mac McClung and Greg Malinowski were big down the stretch and they had counters for every Orange response -- all, it turns out, except for the final one.
This was a win Syracuse needed desperately after faltering earlier in the season against UConn and Oregon and dropping out of the rankings entirely. The win marks the fifth straight to put them at 7-2 on the season, and allows them to avoid a potential head-scratcher on their home court.
Meanwhile, Gorgetown will be just fine. Yes, the Hoyas will probably be kicking themselves on their way home, but they remain a respectable 7-2 with plenty of opportunities -- beginning next Saturday vs. SMU at home -- to bolster their nonconference resume.