|1991-1992 Syracuse Orangemen|
|Overall||22-10||NCAA 2nd Round||Schedule Results|
|Big East||10-8||Big East Champion (Tournament)||Previous||Next|
Coach: Jim Boeheim
Syracuse would start the year unranked. Superstar Billy Owens left for the NBA a year early as expected, and senior LeRon Ellis moved on to the NBA. Dave Johnson was the only returning proven scorer, and the Orangemen would start four players 6’5” or shorter. It was no surprise that the team would start the year unranked.
Syracuse would start the season with the Adrian 'Red' Autry and Michael Edwards returning in the backcourt, and juniors Mike Hopkins and shot blocking Conrad McRae joining Johnson up front.
Syracuse had a tough time in the season opener against Cornell. The team found out shortly before tip off that McRae was suspended, pending an NCAA appeal, and Junior Dave Siock started in his place The undersized Orangemen were outrebounded in the game 49-41, though Syracuse would pull out the 78-71.
Autry would miss his starting assignment the next three games as he was dealing with health issues with his ailing mother. Coach Jim Boeheim would play around with some different lineups trying to find the right mix. Johnson would start playing well scoring 29 against Florida State and 27 against Eastern Kentucky. McRae’s suspension would be lifted after three games and he would play the rest of the season.
The big surprise for Syracuse was the emergency of Lawrence Moten. The unheralded freshman would get his first start against Florida State and two games later led the team to victory with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists over St. Joseph's. His steady play would become a rock for the team all year.
The team would go to 10-0 and move up to #23 in the rankings. They would move to 8-3 in the Big East and #12 in the country, including a big win over ranked Georgetown and a close 58-56 win over ranked St. Johns. Along the way Johnson would score 35 points in win over Miami, and Moten 32 in a win over Pittsburgh.
The Orangemen were then scheduled to play four ranked teams in the next five games. They would beat #10 UConn 84-83, but lose close games to Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. Johns, plus a loss to Seton Hall. Against UConn the game was tied 83-83 with time running out. Moten missed a three point attempt with about 10 seconds to go. McRae grabbed the rebound, but was fouled hard trying to put the ball back into the hoop. McRae was too hurt to make the free throw, so Boeheim brough in Hopkins off the bench to take the two free throws. Hopkins, a 50% free throw shooter at that point in the season, made the first one and missed the second, but the one he made was enough to win the game.
After the Notre Dame loss, McRae would move into the starting lineup over Siock. This was not that big of a move as McRae was already playing significantly more minutes than his teammate. Syracuse would finish the Big East season 10-8, and drop out of the top 25.
However, the team got hot in the Big East Tournament. Dave Johnson would propel the Orangemen to a 55-52 win over Villanova on his 6 for 8 three point shooting and 27 points. Syracuse would beat Seton Hall 70-66 as Michael Edwards came off the bench and scored 12 points in the second half. The Orangemen were now ready to match their rival Georgetown in the Big East Finals.
Moten would score 15 points in the first half to keep the Orangemen even with the Hoyas 29-29 at the half. The Hoyas would focus on shutting Moten down in the second half, so Mike Hopkins stepped up big. He would make 6 of his 7 shots for the game, including 8 big points in the second half as the Orangemen hung on to beat the Hoyas 56-54 to win the Big East Championship.
Syracuse would play Princeton in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Though the Tigers deliberate slow pace offense kept the score low, the Orangemen won the game easily 51-43 behind Moten’s 20 points.
In the second round of the tournament the Orangemen met UMass. Hopkins would get hit by an elbow and cut his brow with about 10 minutes left in the game, and played the remainder of the game with a memorable bloodied uniform. Johnson would hit a shot as time was expiring to tie the game up and send it into overtime. Unfortunately, the Minutemen got the better of the Orangemen in the extra period and won the game. Johnson would finish with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Syracuse’s Adrian Autry had an impressive 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and only 2 turnovers, but that was coupled with going 0-11 from the floor and having only 1 point.
©RLYoung 2005, 2006, 2007, 2015