Otto is an important word in Syracuse basketball culture. First, Otto is the name of the school’s orange mascot, and second, “Otto’s Army” is the name of the passionate group that leads the fan section on football and basketball game days.
But on Saturday, a day where everything was supposed to go right for the Orange, the word Otto took on a different meaning.
A record crowd for an on-campus college basketball game was on hand as Syracuse took on Georgetown at the Carrier Dome. Hundreds of Syracuse fans camped out throughout the week for priority seating, Carmelo Anthony’s #15 was retired at half time, and one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball history was set to write an indelible conclusion.
It was the perfect storm for Syracuse and the masses of fans who poured into the Carrier Dome early Saturday afternoon. But when the game clock hit all zeroes around 6 p.m., 33 points from Georgetown’s Otto Porter made 35,012 fans very, very quiet.
The final score was Georgetown-57 Syracuse-46. We could go through the Orange’s defensive deficiencies, inability to penetrate the Hoyas’ zone, and the untimeliness of their limited buckets, but let’s not waste each other’s time; Otto Porter simply couldn’t be stopped. En route to his 33 points Porter shot 12-19 from the field, 5-10 from three, and 4-4 from the line, and also posted 8 rebounds and 5 steals. No other player ended the game in double figures, and their next highest scorer was D’Vauntes Smith Rivera who provided 7 off the bench.
The Orange had three players in double figures. C.J. Fair and James Southerland had 13 and Brandon Triche had 10. The Hoyas did a good job of keeping Cuse’s guards out of the paint and open shots just didn’t fall, especially when Syracuse needed them most.
Let’s get back to Porter. Not only did he thrash the Orange with 33 of his team’s 57 points, but he seemed to score each of those points at the exact right moment. Most notably, when Syracuse had cut the game to four with just minutes remaining, Porter completed a 4-point play after being fouled on a three pointer in the waning seconds of the shot clock. I’ll make this easy and deploy one of sport’s chief cliches. It was a dagger.
What Georgetown did Saturday defied a load of odds. They walked into a hostile stadium housing one of the largest crowds in college basketball history and came out with a double-digit win. After a James Sutherland three and Carmelo’s Hall of Fame induction electrified the fans after halftime, Georgetown methodically silenced a crowd who for nearly forty minutes, refused to go away.
But their path to victory put the odds in their favor. They used one of sport’s most reliable winning formulas by riding the hand of their superstar to an implausible feat.
Syracuse fans will have a lot to remember from Saturday. But while Melo’s #15 and the record breaking attendance number of 35,012 will stick in the hearts and minds of Otto’s Army, Otto Porter’s 33 points will always have their place as well.