HARTFORD, Conn. — Getting James Southerland back was suppose to be a lift for the No. 6 Syracuse Orange. He did with 4-for-9 shooting from behind the arc for 14 points.
However the rest of the Orange shot a 0-for-14 from three, en route to 35 percent shooting night from the field. In the last game against UConn as Big East opponents, Syracuse lost 66-58 — the team’s third loss in five games.
UConn took away a lot of the Syracuse offensive. Ryan Boatright applied pressure on Michael Carter Williams, who had only one assist and four turnovers. The Huskies also held Brandon Triche, the Orange’s leading scorer with only nine points.
“Good players have bad nights,” said Jim Boeheim. “He’ll bounce back.”
Triche shot 3-of-15 from the field, thanks in large part to Napier and the UConn help defense.
“I was just trying to do as much as I can,” said Shabazz Napier on guarding Triche. “I wanted to play him with as much respect as possible, but at the same time try to stop him from doing as much as he can.”
Syracuse didn’t get many of the lob passes inside and the fastbreak was held to a screeching halt with only four transition points.
“They got a lob the first minute and I was like, ‘Oh boy,'” said Kevin Ollie. “But I don’t think they got anymore.
“To hold a team with this much talent to 35 percent, that’s big time.”
Syracuse corralled 20 offensive rebounds, forced 18 turnovers and still lost. Granted the Huskies had a great shooting night. But the shots were created by Napier and Boatright driving the lane and finding open shooters.
“Our defense was good,” said Boeheim. “It broke down at the last second. They got the ball to the open shooters and knocked them down.
“They got a couple of good looks in the run and I thought that was the difference.”
Napier had four turnovers, while Boatright had three, however they combined for 11 assists. Defensively the duo held Carter-Williams and Triche in check, which was the key to the game.
For Syracuse, who holds a one game lead atop the Big East standings, the upcoming schedule is favorable, but only for a little bit. Following back-to-back games against Seton Hall and Providence, the Orange play No. 15 Georgetown, on the road at No. 18 Marquette and a rematch against No. 12 Louisville. Syracuse ends the season with four of the last five games against ranked opponents.
People in upstate New York may not be concerned yet with the Big East leading Orange, but they have reason to start.