Earlier this week we talked about the importance of John Gillon to this team and now that realization has come to fruition.
Down 16 with 8:44 left in regulation, this basketball game looked all but over for the Syracuse Orange. You could see an acceptance of defeat in the eyes of pretty much every Syracuse fan and player, except for John Gillon.
Gillon led an unimaginable comeback, including a miraculous unbalanced three with one second left in regulation to force overtime, where Syracuse dominated N.C. State en-route to a 100-93 victory.
Gillon finished the game with a career-high 43 points (10-13) from the field, 9 assists, (14-14) from the free throw line, and an incredible 9-10 from deep.
When the Wolfpack took a commanding 75-59 lead, John Gillon still knew that his team could win. When asked about how he approached the final 8 minutes of the game, Gillon answered:
“I just went to my teammates, and told them that we can get them rattled. I didn’t feel like they had the best ball handlers on their team, so I knew when coach adjusted and made us press, we could come back.”
John Gillon had 12 points during Syracuse’s 17-2 run that cut N.C. State’s lead to just one. With 39 seconds left in regulation, Gillon tied the game at 84, hitting his 13th and 14th free throws of the night.
Gillon’s heroics were almost cut short after N.C. State’s Maverick Rowan hit a contested 3-pointer to take a three point lead with 10 seconds remaining during the ensuing possession.
Although instead of calling a timeout, Jim Boeheim put all of his faith in the hands of John Gillon, and the man did not disappoint. Gillon proceeded to push the ball up the court, and drained an improbable 3-pointer with 1.8 second left, and this game ended up needing extra time.
“John had to make virtually almost an impossible shot to get into overtime.”
In overtime, Gillon continued to dominate on the defensive end against a strong
offense led by Dennis Smith Jr. and company. Gillon’s hustle on the defensive end translated to a dominant offensive display in overtime from Andrew White, who finished with 28 points.
Although Dennis Smith Jr. recorded a triple-double with 15 assists and 11 points, John Gillon limited the likely top-5 overall pick to 13 points, six less than Smith had been averaging through his 9 previous ACC contests.
Gillon’s nine threes puts him in elite company as he tied a Syracuse record for most threes made in one game. Gerry McNamara, Andy Rautins, James Southerland, and Trevor Cooney are the only other players to connect on nine threes in a single game in Syracuse’s illustrious history.
Ironically, the Syracuse Orange will play against the Virginia Cavaliers this Saturday, a team that they stunned in the Elite Eight last year after overcoming a 20 point deficit in the second half.
The Orange will be looking to pick up where they left off when the Cavaliers come to the Carrier Dome. If Syracuse is going to get it done this weekend, John Gillon would be the reason why.
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