ATLANTA — Jim Boeheim, now in his 39th season at Syracuse, easily summed up what he had just witnessed.
"It was, without a doubt, the worst offensive game I've ever seen," said Boeheim, college basketball's No. 2 career winningest coach. "I can't say anything else. I mean literally. I can't describe it."
Rakeem Christmas scored 18 points and hit the go-ahead free throw with 12 seconds remaining to help Syracuse edge Georgia Tech 46-45 on Wednesday night.
Georgia Tech's Chris Bolden missed a straightaway 3-point attempt with 2 seconds left and Quinton Stephens blew a putback opportunity under the basket as the buzzer sounded.
Going nearly the final 9 minutes without a field goal, Georgia Tech (9-5, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) took its second straight tough league loss following a double-overtime setback Saturday at then-No. 14 Notre Dame.
"Back to back, that's kind of tough, but you can't dwell on it," forward Marcus Georges-Hunt said. "You turn right back around and go on the road. You learn from this one and get ready for Saturday to play against Wake Forest."
Charles Mitchell had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who missed their final 11 attempts from the field.
Christmas' two closing free throws gave Syracuse (11-4, 2-0) a second straight narrow road win following Saturday's 68-66 victory at Virginia Tech.
The Orange missed of their first 11 shots from the field to begin the game and six of their last eight to end it.
"It was a dogfight out there," Christmas said. "Physical games like this — you've just got to play through it."
Michael Gbinije added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Orange, who were visiting Georgia Tech for the first time.
There were 14 lead changes in the game, and neither team led by more than four points.
The Jackets began the second half 1 for 13 from the field before Mitchell's three-point play gave them a 33-32 lead with 12:38 remaining.
Georgia Tech missed easy looks at the basket late in the game when Demarco Cox blew an open dunk attempt with 2 minutes remaining and Travis Jorgenson shot an air ball on a 3 attempt as the shot clock expired with 29 seconds remaining.
The game was a mess on both sides.
Boeheim was incredulous that Orange sophomore Tyler Roberson grabbed the rim on a putback attempt, resulting in a turnover, with 7:46 remaining.
"I've been coaching for 39 years. I've never had a player just go grab the rim like," Boeheim said. "What are you thinking? You're not."
Point guard Trevor Cooney had hoped for a more fluid night offensively, but was pleased that Syracuse eked out another win.
"We've got to step it up, myself included," Cooney said after scoring nine points. "But our defense was there. When you're not scoring, you've got to find ways to win."
Chris McCullough began the game as Syracuse's third-leading scorer with a 10.1 average, but the freshman forward has gone seven straight games in single digits. Finishing with three points on 1 for 7 shooting, McCullough is just 8 for his last 32.
Georgia Tech was 1 for 11 on 3s before Georges-Hunt and Jorgenson both hit from beyond the arc on two of three possessions to put the Jackets up 41-37 with 8:38 remaining.
Syracuse: Hosts Florida State on Sunday.
Georgia Tech: Visits Wake Forest on Saturday.