Michael Gbinije carries Syracuse offensively in 63-60 victory over Gonzaga

first_img Published on March 26, 2016 at 3:06 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 “We just try to keep winning in our mindset,” Gbinije said. “And at that point you kind of dismiss whatever other distractions is there. Mentally, you just block it out.”Boeheim called a timeout in the second half and told him to start getting to the basket more. Of the 16 shots he took after the break, 14 were from inside the arc. He wasn’t nearly as aggressive in the first half and Syracuse’s offense struggled.Before Syracuse found any rhythm there was a Gbinije that took two straight step-back jumpers. He watched both clank off the right side of the back rim. There was a guy whose corner 3 didn’t rim, net or anything but the air and the hardwood court.“Mike made up his mind that he was going to attack, he was going to get to the rim,” assistant coach Gerry McNamara said. “We weren’t making shots and we had to find other ways to manufacture points. Every time we needed a big play … Michael’s making it.”Malachi Richardson was 3-of-14. Tyler Lydon was 1-of-5. Trevor Cooney was 5-of-9, but he was completely neutralized from behind the arc. Each made big plays. Richardson connected on a late 3 to slice a six-point lead in half. Lydon made a game-saving block. Cooney was the star of a late defensive press that proved extremely effective.But the offense, it came from Gbinije. It had to. He was the run-stopper, the playmaker and the scorer all rolled into one.He stood in the Orange locker room, a full and inescapable grin on his face. He laughed through questions that wouldn’t even warrant it. He said that walk-on Christian White had ran into a “physical specimen” when their chest bump early in the second half left White flat on the United Center court. He boasted that he always believed Syracuse would be in the Elite Eight, even if no one else did.And on a night when his points were hard fought and the offense from anyone else a blessing more than an expectation, somehow that last, game-winning basket was simpler than all the rest. And it got his team to a place that maybe only he believed it would be.“We had to tough out a lot of games this year, especially in this Tournament,” Gbinije said. “But we’ve got another chance to play basketball.” Comments The ball was loose on the ground and Michael Gbinije had a game winning shot right there for him to make. All he wanted to do was pick the ball up, and get it out of his hands as quickly as possible.He’d missed a contested layup just a couple ticks before. There was a scramble on the boards, a fight for the Orange’s season. Gbinije had put his head down all second half and taken to the basket with the likes of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis waiting there to disrupt his shot. He’d battled for every point.Then, as if out of nowhere, there was the ball and an open shot to make. It was all so simple.Defenders tried to close in. But by the time they did, Gbinije’s 20th and final point was rolling in the front part of the cylinder and through the basket.Syracuse had almost lost the lead for good. Now it had one it wouldn’t give up.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“At the end, we just let Mike take it and try to get to the basket,” Jim Boeheim said. “He’s a strong guy, and he did it. He won the game for us.”Gbinije scored four of the first six points in the second half and assisted on the other two. They turned a one-point deficit to a five-point lead. His next two points unlocked a tie game after a 5-0 Gonzaga run. He gave his team the lead again with 10:30 left on a pull-up jumper. Then his final basket was the game-winner.Half of his shots in the second half gave the Orange the lead. And because of him, Syracuse (22-13, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) had the final lead, 63-60, over Gonzaga (28-8, 15-3 West Coast) when time had finally expired. And amid the hoopla of SU’s successful press defense and Tyler Lydon’s last-second block was Gbinije, who carried the team offensively when nearly everyone else struggled to score.MORE COVERAGEDougherty: Ignorance is bliss (or something like that) for Syracuse’s three freshmenGallery: Syracuse advances to the Elite Eight with a 63-60 win over GonzagaStorify: Syracuse fans rejoice as No. 10 seed SU advances to Elite 8 with win over No. 11 GonzagaSyracuse escapes nail-biter with 63-60 win over Gonzaga in Sweet 16Syracuse-Virginia basketball Elite Eight game time set for 6:09 p.m. Sunday Related Stories Dougherty: Ignorance is bliss (or something like that) for Syracuse’s three freshmenGallery: Syracuse advances to the Elite Eight with a 63-60 win over GonzagaStorify: Syracuse fans rejoice as No. 10 seed SU advances to Elite 8 with win over No. 11 GonzagaSyracuse escapes nail-biter with 63-60 win over Gonzaga in Sweet 16Syracuse-Virginia basketball Elite Eight game time set for 6:09 p.m. Sunday Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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