In the first matchup of the season between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (16-11, 7-7) and Syracuse Orange (16-12, 8-7), the Yellow Jackets came out on top after gaining momentum in the second half, 71-65.
"First off, Syracuse is really good, but I'm really proud of our young men to find a way to win. It's not easy to do against a really good team like Syracuse," said Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner. "We really defended well for most of the game, but especially [in] that second half. You look at those numbers [and], defensively, we did a nice job. Syracuse like I said, is really good. They've got good players, and obviously Coach [Jim] Boeheim is one of the greatest ever."
Graduate student guard Andrew White III , who had been hot from behind the arc, scoring 20 or more points in the previous seven games was limited to just 17, ending his streak.
While both teams struggled on both ends of the court at the start of the game, it was Syracuse whose second chance opportunities allowed them to take the early lead as White connected from behind the arc.
The Yellow Jackets responded to regain the lead, but that lead was short-lived as White connected from behind the arc on two consecutive plays to put the Orange up 26-21 with 2:54 remaining until the break.
"White is a knock down shooter," said senior forward Quinton Stephens. "Game-to-game depending on personnel is how we decide our defense."
Although trailing at the half, the Yellow Jackets were able to gain momentum after a buzzer beater three by junior guard Tadric Jackson to close the gap within three, 32-29.
Shooting 36.7 percentage from the field in the first half, the Yellow Jackets went three for eight from behind the arc and four for six from the free throw line.
After a slow first half on both sides of the court, the Yellow Jackets flipped the scrip in the second half as they continued with the momentum they went into the break with to take the early lead.
"We didn't get as good of movement against our matchup as we needed to. When we got some good looks [that] we missed," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "We got it inside to Tyler Lydon, and he had two really good looks right around the basket. I thought he got fouled, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Can't miss those when you are in tough games. Can't do that."
Never throwing in the towel, Syracuse fought back as they chipped the deficit away to six with 1:49 remaining in the second half.
Syracuse, with a fortunate call reversal capitalized on a made three by graduate student guard John Gillon to cut the deficit to three with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
A sloppy throw in bounds by Georgia Tech, turned into Syracuse stealing the ball and drawing the foul to cut the lead down to two, 67-65.
A missed contested layup by Jackson, gave the ball back to the Orange for an opportunity to tie things up. However, with 16.6 seconds left, the Yellow Jackets drew the offensive foul to regain possession.
Syracuse was forced to foul, sending senior guard Josh Heath to the line twice where he sealed the deal for the Yellow Jackets with three made free throws to take the win, 71-65.
"We just dug ourselves a hole," Boeheim said. "I thought we fought back as hard as we could and got it back to a game where we could tie, but it got away. That's what happens sometimes."
The Yellow Jackets next test comes on the Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion against North Carolina State at 8 p.m.
Syracuse will return to the Carrier Dome to take on the Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday at 7 p.m.