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Boston College handed #1 Syracuse its first defeat of the 2013-14 season, a 62-59 overtime stunner at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday. The win ended a five-game losing streak for a BC team that has only won two games in Atlantic Coast Conference play this season, both against Virginia Tech. It was an emotional victory for the Eagles, who were wearing “DK” patches on their jerseys in honor of longtime sports information director Dick Kelley, who passed away on February 13 after a battle with ALS.
The unlikeliness of BC’s upset is best reflected in the folowing stat: its 19 losses are the most ever by a team to beat the top-ranked team in the AP standings. The Orange had won their first 25 games by an average of 11.8 points, but had beaten their last two rivals, Pittsburgh and North Carolina State, by a total of just three points. In these teams’ first meeting, Syracuse prevailed 69-59 at the Conte Forum on January 13.
On Wednesday, Syracuse led 25-17 at halftime, and its advantage grew to 13 points early in the second half before the Eagles made a furious comeback to send the game to OT. There, they outscored the Orange 12-9 behind three-pointers from guards Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann and four straight free throws by Lonnie Jackson – just a 65% shooter from the line this season.
Hanlan finished the game with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including 4-for-9 from downtown, while forward Ryan Anderson filled the stat sheet with 14 rebounds to go with nine points, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Forward C. J. Fair led Syracuse with a 20-point, 11-board double-double and two blocks, guard Tyler Ennis had 14 points and six dimes, and forward Jerami Grant contributed 11 points and four steals.
With the victory, BC improved to 7-19 on the season, with a 3-10 record in ACC play. That’s still good for just 14th place out of 15 teams, and 9.5 games out of first place, where #14 Virginia now sits. With five regular-season games remaining, all against teams currently at or above .500, it seems highly unlikely that the Eagles have enough momentum, even with this monumental upset, to get into the top nine and earn a first-round bye in next month’s ACC Tournament, but the defeat of Syracuse has been a rare bright spot in an otherwise very tough season.
The Orange’s loss leaves #3 Wichita State as the nation’s only undefeated team, but the Shockers’ mid-major status has many still seeing Syracuse and #2 Florida as more bona fide national championship contenders.