Georgia Tech stuns No. 7 Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Trae Golden scored 16 points, including six clutch free throws in the final seconds, and Georgia Tech stunned struggling No. 7 Syracuse 67-62 on Tuesday night.
Syracuse (26-4, 13-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had lost three of four coming into the game and dropped three more spots in the rankings after starting the season with 25 straight wins and spending three weeks at No. 1.
Georgia Tech (14-16, 5-12) snapped a four-game losing streak.
It was the second straight home loss for Syracuse and cost the Orange a great chance to lock up a high seed in the conference tournament next week.
It was the final home game in the careers of seniors C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita, and it was one they will long remember — for all the wrong reasons despite Fair’s 28 points, which matched his career high.
Daniel Miller had 15 points and Robert Carter Jr. added 12 for Georgia Tech.
Jerami Grant, the Orange’s leading rebounder, had been hobbled by back problems the past two games and watched in street clothes as freshman Tyler Roberson made his first start of the season.
Fair was 12 of 25 from the field and freshman Tyler Ennis finished with 18 points and seven assists. Trevor Cooney had only seven points and was 1 of 8 from behind the arc.
Georgia Tech led by eight points at halftime and maintained that cushion through the first media timeout of the second half despite three-point plays by Ennis and Fair.
And when Fair cut the margin to 39-33 with a driving layup, Golden responded with a 3 from the right wing to put Georgia Tech up by nine. Two free throws by Kammeon Holsey and a jumper in the lane by Miller made it 46-34 with 13:18 to go.
Cooney is a streaky shooter who has eight games in which he’s converted at least five 3-pointers. He came into the game shooting just under 40 percent from long range, but in the last five games was just 8 of 35 from behind the arc and 13 of 48 overall. He was 0 of 3 on 3-pointers in the first half against Georgia Tech and missed his first three attempts in the second half as the Yellow Jackets hung tough.
Fair’s driving layup and a free throw by Michael Gbinije cut the deficit to single digits, but Chris Bolden beat the Syracuse press for a layup to give Georgia Tech a 52-41 lead with 8:10 to go.
Syracuse made a late push, with Fair hitting a 3 and Ennis converting a runner in the lane to narrow the gap to 59-52 with 3:12 left.
The Orange weren’t finished. Fair missed a 3 but Bolden quickly missed one at the other end instead of taking time off the clock and Fair responded with a drive and shot off the glass with 2:41 left to make it 59-55. Fair was fouled on the play but failed to convert the free throw, making Syracuse a costly 7 of 16 from the line.
Miller’s slam beat the Orange press after a turnover by Fair, but Cooney finally came through with a 3 from the wing as Syracuse closed to 61-57 with 1:48 to play.
Carter then missed a free throw, but Ennis lost the ball on a drive in the lane with just over a minute remaining.
Golden made six straight free throws in the final 35 seconds as Tech survived.
The Yellow Jackets came in averaging 12.4 turnovers a game and had a minus-2.1 turnover margin compared to Syracuse’s conference-leading plus-4.8. But Georgia Tech committed only four in the opening half and five in the second. Its reserves outscored the Orange’s 17-4.
Syracuse won 57-55 at Maryland and lost 75-56 at No. 5 Virginia on Saturday in a game that gave the Cavaliers the regular-season ACC title and continued the Orange’s month-long struggle.