Via the Elam Ending, Keifer Sykes called game.
The former Green Bay star drained the game-winning triple to clinch a TBT championship and $1 million for Boeheim’s Army on Tuesday, defeating Team 23, 69-67.
The night got even better for Sykes later on. Shortly after he secured the money for him and his teammates, he received the first NBA contract of his career, signing with the Indiana Pacers.
It was a pretty ridiculous day for Keifer Sykes.
Each player for Boeheim’s Army took home $80,000 each, while the team’s general managers and coaches made between $40,000 and $60,000.
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The game was much more than Keifer Sykes’ game winner, though. It was an incredibly tight contest, with neither team leading by more than six at any point. From the opening tip, it was wide open and obviously the Elam Ending would be a heart-pounding affair that would leave one half of the contestants in agony.
In my preview of the TBT championship, I noted that Boeheim’s Army prefers a lower-scoring game, while Team 23 has been much more content with the ball flying back and forth and scores reaching into the 80s. I said that if the game were played in the 60s or below, it would be to the Army’s advantage – the game was played in the 60s, and while there were periods of high pace and frenetic play, it wasn’t a full-court affair to the degree that Team 23 would have preferred.
Team 23 did keep Tyrese Rice in relative check, which seemed like a critical key heading into the night. Rice only had eight points on 3-of-14 shooting, a massive micro-victory for Team 23 in the game within a game. Eric Griffin in particular did very well on Rice when he was forced to defend the guard on the ball after a switch.
But with the attention placed on Rice, Keifer Sykes was able to run free for more than just the game winner. He scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, plus a 3-of-6 mark from deep, and was the biggest offensive engine for Boeheim’s Army.
Don’t let any of this fool you, though; this game could have easily gone the other way. Team 23 had an outstanding look to win in the Elam Ending a little before Sykes ended the contest, but Dakarai Tucker’s effort met only iron, an illustration of the fine margins that decided who would leave Dayton with the cash and trophy.
For Team 23, it’s another heartbreak. This is the second time it has lost in a TBT championship game, also coming up two points short in 2015 to Overseas Elite by a very similar score.
For Boeheim’s Army, the seventh time is the charm. This is the team’s first TBT title after many entries into the tournament, and Eric Devendorf, one of the Syracuse alums on the squad who has played for the team in all seven of its iterations, has finally climbed the TBT mountaintop.
“Seven years, we got here and we did it,” Devendorf said after the game. “It feels good. I appreciate all the support. … This is the best university in the world! Syracuse.”
Featured photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.