Finally a basketball game played on an aircraft carrier this weekend went the full 40 minutes, with No. 20 San Diego State and No. 9 Syracuse taking on each other (along with the sun and wind) in the Battle on the Midway.
The Orange were the ones who did the better job of adjusting to the unfamiliar surroundings, limiting the Aztecs to 27% shooting in the 62-49 victory.
San Diego State struggled mightily from the foul line as well, making just 14 of their 33 attempts from the charity stripe.
By comparison while Syracuse didn’t shoot well from the foul line either (11-of-19) they did a much better job of eschewing the perimeter shot in favor of a look inside of the arc.
The Orange attempted just four three-pointers on the day while San Diego State attempted 18, with each team making one. That will get a team beat in a conventional gym, much less an outdoor court on a windy afternoon.
C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams led the way for the Orange with 17 points apiece, and Fair grabbed ten of Syracuse’s 40 rebounds as well.
Jamaal Franklin, Player of the Year in the Mountain West last season, led the Aztecs with 11 points. But he and Chase Tapley had a rough afternoon from the field, combining to shoot 6-of-25 from the field.
Add in 16 turnovers (Syracuse had 18 themselves) and you’ve got the recipe for a loss.
So how much can we take from this game? Outside of the occasion not a whole lot. Sure both teams need to be better with the basketball and the Aztecs need to shoot better, but when considering the environment and the fact that the game was postponed for two days it shouldn’t be a surprise that there were issues.
San Diego State shot below 35% in just three games (1-2 record) last season, and with players such as Franklin, Tapley, Xavier Thames and James Rahon days like this will be the exception rather than the rule.
If there’s one “request” for the Aztecs in the future it will be that they avoid settling for perimeter shots when facing a zone defense. That’s a rule that should apply no matter where the game is played, but even if future opponents throw a zone at San Diego State few will be able to replicate the length and activity of Syracuse’s 2-3.
Early season match-ups of ranked teams on aircraft carriers are entertaining to watch (when completed), but the day is more about the event itself than looking to figure out an unfinished product.