Boston College’s three-point shooting does in No. 1 Syracuse


No. 1 Syracuse has seemingly made a habit of escaping during ACC play, with Tyler Ennis, C.J. Fair and company making the plays needed to remain undefeated down the stretch in close games. That wasn’t the case on Wednesday night, and the team that ended the Orange’s undefeated run was certainly a surprise.

Boston College, expected to take a step forward in the ACC before the season began but struggling mightily with a 6-19 record, upset Syracuse 62-59 in overtime at the Carrier Dome for its third conference win of the season. The key for Steve Donahue’s Eagles was their three-point shooting, as they made 11 of their 22 attempts on the night.

That shooting, and outscoring Syracuse 33-6 on three-pointers, allowed Boston College to hang with Syracuse despite the fact that they turned the ball over 17 times. Olivier Hanlan led the way offensively with 20 points and Lonnie Jackson, who hit four key free throws in overtime, added ten.

For the second consecutive game Syracuse struggled with its shooting, knocking down just 32.3% of its shots from the field after shooting 35.2% in their 56-55 win over N.C. State on Saturday night. Normally in those cases Jim Boeheim’s team can make up for this with their ability to hurt teams on the offensive glass, as they rank among the nation’s best in offensive rebounding percentage.

Against Boston College the Orange managed to corral 17 offensive rebounds, which works out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 35.4%. The problem for Syracuse: they didn’t do a particularly good job of taking advantage of those second-chance opportunities, scoring just ten points. By comparison Boston College converted nine offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points.

Between the offensive rebounding and their lack of turnovers, Syracuse has been one of the nation’s most efficient offenses this season despite posting some unspectacular scoring efforts. With the combination of an efficient offense and their solid defense Syracuse was able to win close game after close game. But Boston College’s perimeter shooting, with the Eagles being just the second ACC team this season to reach double digits in made three-pointers against Syracuse (Duke was the other), proved to be too much with the Orange struggling to make shots.

Much will likely be made about the fact that Syracuse’s game at No. 5 Duke on Saturday night loses a little luster due to Wednesday night’s result. But what’s of greater importance is the fact that the ACC race has become a lot tighter, with the Orange now tied for first place in the loss column with No. 14 Virginia (which has one more win). And with those teams meeting just once this season, on March 1 in Charlottesville, that’s of far greater importance than the hype associated with Saturday’s contest.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.