TURN ON THE LIGHTS: Syracuse defeats Georgia Tech, claims Legends Classic title in Atlantic City

first_img Published on November 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. –– With its raucous ovation, the Orange-laden Boardwalk Hall crowd provided the exit music. An exit, albeit a brief one, it was starving for all day. It was exit music for Brian Oliver. The Syracuse partisans who hissed and booed all game knew: This was also the chance for the exit music of Georgia Tech’s chances to win the Legends Classic. ‘We just had to somehow get a handle on Oliver,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘It took us 30 minutes to do it.’ The scorching Georgia Tech shooter lit up Atlantic City for 26 points with SU up two at the 14:40 mark of the second half. But because Oliver picked up his third foul, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt relegated Oliver to the bench. His stay would only last two minutes. But it was enough. The two minutes cooled off the star of the show. From there, Syracuse and its fans knew there was nothing stopping SU from victory.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text For the rest of the game, Oliver scored only six points, and No. 8 Syracuse defeated Georgia Tech 80-76 in the tournament’s championship game Saturday in front of 5,271 at Boardwalk Hall. SU (6-0) propelled itself to victory offensively, thanks to a shooting clinic in the second half that produced 42 points. Rick Jackson won the tournament’s MVP award with 26 combined rebounds in two wins. Oliver’s time on the bench proved to be the turning point SU needed Saturday. It wasn’t easy, though. After two Syracuse turnovers following Oliver’s exit, the Orange increased its lead from two to 13 with 8:39 left in the game. SU clamped down on Oliver when he returned. ‘I did sense that they were definitely keying in on me,’ Oliver said. The win came despite a Yellow Jackets shooting clinic that dominated the first half. It was a clinic that Oliver extended into the second half by himself. In the first half, Oliver torched a laid-back SU 2-3 zone for 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. His lights-out performance helped the Yellow Jackets to 56 percent shooting in the half. After Oliver scored the first bucket, Georgia Tech led for all but nine seconds of the first half, with no lead changes or ties. That was until Orange freshman C.J. Fair connected on a 3-pointer with nine seconds left in the half. The jumper gave SU a 38-36 lead. It foreshadowed what would come in the second half. And it also sent the Boardwalk Hall crowd into a frenzy. Kris Joseph led the Orange to the win and countered Oliver’s performance with a team-high 19 points. Both players were selected to the All-Tournament team. Because of three first-half fouls, though, Joseph couldn’t carry the Orange. Rather, SU freshman Dion Waiters took charge. While Oliver’s unconscious shooting kept the Yellow Jackets with a lead throughout the half, Waiters was the answer that kept SU in the game. He started the game 4-of-4 from the field, mostly on deep jumpers he wasn’t afraid to create on his own. He finished with 13 points. With Waiters putting SU’s scoring needs on himself, combined with Joseph and others’ second-half showcase, SU finally put together an offensive performance Boeheim said was needed all year. One Joseph even said was a perfect 10 out of 10. ‘We got the bench players to chip in for us and score double digits,’ Joseph said. The offense was drawn out because of Oliver’s offensive performance. He would end the game with 32 of Georgia Tech’s 76 points, the last of which came on a deep two to bring the Yellow Jackets within five points with less than three minutes to go. But it was too late. The dry spell stemming from his seat on the bench was too much. And the final exit music — the real exit music for Oliver and Georgia Tech — came in the next possession. With 1:58 left, Scoop Jardine threw an alley-oop to Rick Jackson. It was the dagger that got Orange fans standing and roaring once more. Once again they knew: too little Oliver too late. ‘We were trying to make him a playmaker instead of a shooter,’ Jardine said. ‘Just run him off the spot. And we kind of did that late in the game. Get him uncomfortable.’ aolivero@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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