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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / October 23.
  • The Bank is Open: John Gillon’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Syracuse Over Duke, Probably Into NCAA Tournament

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    By MIKE McCURRY

    Live by John Gillon, die by John Gillon. For better or for worse, the Colorado State transfer has been Syracuse’s X-factor all season long.

    Case in point: Entering Wednesday’s near must-win game against No. 10 Duke, Gillon was averaging 12.9 points on 50 percent shooting in the Orange’s 16 wins compared to 7.4 points on 27 percent shooting in their 12 losses.

    The good Gillon showed up on this particular night right thru the final buzzer, when his game-winning 25-footer banked in to lift Syracuse to a 78-75 thrilling victory over Duke that will go a long way in securing an at-large bid for Jim Boeheim and company.

    Gillon finished with 26 points, 6 assists, and no turnovers for Syracuse, which snapped a three-game losing streak and simultaneously ended the Blue Devils’ seven-game winning streak.

    Freshman Tyus Battle also came up huge for the Orange, as the Gill St. Bernard’s/St. Joseph’s (NJ) product went for 18 points, including a couple of filthy step-back jumpers in late, high-leverage possessions.

    Jayson Tatum continued his sizzling run, dropping 19 points, 13 rebounds, and a career-best 6 assists, while Luke Kennard (23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and Amile Jefferson (14 points) also enjoyed solid floor games for Duke.

    What did the Blue Devils in was a no-show from Grayson Allen (8 points, 2-of-11 shooting), who appeared to be at less than full-strength physically, and a porous defense that allowed Syracuse to connect on 53 percent of its twos and 55 percent of its threes. Duke also dealt with a lot of foul trouble, leading to a 22-of-25 mark at the charity stripe for the Orange.

    If you’re Duke, there’s really no shame in losing—they were due, after all, and also happened to be matched up against a desperate unit fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives.

    Plus, Syracuse was at home, where they’re just a different team.

    The Orange are now 15-3 as the host this season, with six of those wins coming against the RPI Top-50, and half of those wins coming against RPI Top-25 teams in Duke, Florida State, and Virginia.

    That trio of marquee victories at the Carrier Dome may be enough to outweigh Syracuse’s poor RPI (86 entering Wednesday), their 2-9 record in road/neutral settings, and those three sour losses to teams currently outside the RPI Top-100.

    Leave it to Gillon to (pretty much) pop the Orange’s bubble.

    Photo: @Cuse_MBB

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