SYRACUSE, N.Y. (B/R)—Thus far in 2008, No. 11 Syracuse (9-1) has trailed in a total of six games and had come back to win every one of those games—until tonight.
Cleveland State (7-4) has played well against the likes of Washington (6-3), Kansas State (7-3), Butler (8-1), West Virginia (7-2), and now Syracuse.
The Orange tied this one up with 2.2 seconds left on a rebound dunk by Arinze Onuaku and the game appeared certain to be headed for overtime.
Vikings senior guard Cedric Jackson must have been thinking, "Not so fast my friend," as ESPN football analyst Lee Corso often says.
He caught the inbounds pass and quickly turned up-court and let his two-handed shot fly. What an amazing shot it turned out to be! It was almost never in doubt from the moment he let it go.
"It tears your heart out when you see the ball up in the air and you know it's good," Syracuse's Andy Rautins told the AP. "I kind of stopped looking at it because I knew it had a pretty good chance. Then I heard the crowd and I knew the game was over."
Rautins missed a three-pointer for the win that was rebounded and put back in by Onuaku to tie it up.
Neither team led by more than six points—there were 16 ties and 15 lead changes—and it went back and forth and stayed close right to the very end.
This was just the second regular-season win ever over a team from the AP Top 25 for Cleveland State. The Vikings upset then-No. 12 Butler last January and nearly beat them again this year, ironically losing that game on a last-second three-point shot.
In their previous two appearances in the Carrier Dome, the Vikings won NCAA tournament games over Indiana and Saint Joseph’s back in 1986 to advance to the Sweet 16.
That 83-79 victory over Indiana was the first by a No. 14 seed over a No. 3 seed in tournament history. It was also the first time former Hoosiers and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight lost a first-round game.
The third time was a charm, as much, if not more than the first two times!
Indiana was ranked No. 16 in 1986 when it lost to the Vikings.
As previously mentioned, Butler was No. 12 last season when CSU defeated the Bulldogs.
Syracuse was unbeaten and ranked No. 11 in both the AP and Coaches polls.
Cleveland State is a program that has seen hard times for much of the last 20 years, but this win over the 11th-ranked Orange is the biggest in school history to date!
Maybe—just maybe—they will build off of this huge road win and their 2008-2009 season will ultimately lead to another NCAA tourney berth.