Tyrese Rice had been the star for Boeheim's Army throughout The Basketball Tournament, especially during Elam Ending periods. In fact, he scored all 13 points in the semifinal to spark a come from behind victory to help Boeheim's Army advance to Tuesday night's title game. A game Boeheim's Army won 69-67 over Team 23 in dramatic fashion, but not due to Rice's heroics this time.
Nor was Malachi Richardson, Chris McCullough or DeAndre Kane, each of whom had shined at various points as well. In Tuesday night's championship game, Boeheim's Army needed someone else to step up.
Kane exited the game early with an injury and never returned. He played only 3:32 on the night. Richardson was 0-8 from the floor including 0-5 from beyond the arc. He simply could not find the bottom of the net. McCullough was just 3-9 from the field. Rice also struggled at just 3-14 shooting. Combined, Richardson, McCullough and Rice were 6-31 from the floor.
Enter Keifer Sykes. When Boeheim's Army needed a bucket Tuesday night, Sykes delivered. He hit a layup towards the end of the first quarter to give Boeheim's Army a lead. When Team 23 opened up a five point lead in the middle of the third quarter, Sykes hit a jumper. Trailing by five late in the third, Sykes hit a three. Down six early in the fourth, Sykes scored five straight points to cut the lead to one, and then assisted on two straight buckets to give Boeheim's Army a lead.
In the Elam Ending period, Sykes scored six of Boeheim's Army's eight points including the game winning three pointer.
"They knew it was coming so he was waiting on the screen," Sykes said of the final play. "I saw him (Eric Washington) looking over his shoulder while people were talking on the sideline and he got distracted. He got distracted for the money and I wanted it. So I took it and shot the shot."
Washington appeared to look to his right in order to either see the defensive alignment or receive defensive instructions from his teammates. As soon as Sykes saw that, he sprinted to Washington's left and pulled up for the game winning three.
Sykes finished the game with 21 points on 7-11 shooting, including 3-6 from beyond the arc. Boeheim's Army needed every bucket, every assist, to claim the $1 million prize, and Sykes delivered.
Not only did he deliver, but after the game, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Sykes agreed to a deal with the Indiana Pacers. Not a bad night for the former Wisconsin-Green Bay star.