A familiar refrain from Syracuse fans as much of the nation expressed concern about their offense in ACC play was that the 11th-ranked Orange were still an efficient group, ranking 28th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. But there’s no denying the fact that Syracuse was having issues making shots, and that was once again the case as they lost 66-63 to N.C. State in an ACC tournament quarterfinal.
Syracuse made just 32.7% of its shots from the field, with leading scorer C.J. Fair scoring nine points on 3-for-16 shooting. Tyler Ennis scored 21 points but did so on 6-for-18 shooting, with N.C. State’s Anthony Barber being assigned that defensive responsibility for a decent portion of the night, and Trevor Cooney (he sprained his ankle in the first half) made just one of his six shot attempts. The only starter to score in an efficient manner was Jerami Grant, who scored 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
Unfortunately for Syracuse, the shooting percentages show that this can’t be passed off as the Orange simply having a bad night from the field. In their last eight games Syracuse has shot 40% or better from the field just twice, in wins over Maryland (40%) and Florida State (48.5%). Their defense will keep games close, and that was once again the case Friday night, but the question of whether or not Syracuse can consistently knock down shots is a big concern heading into the NCAA tournament.
With that being an issue Syracuse has been able to take advantage of the offensive glass, rebounding 37.2% of their misses against ACC opponents entering Friday, and they corralled 15 of their misses against N.C. State (five came in that wild sequence in the game’s final seconds). Removing that last sequence the Orange scored just 11 second-chance points on those ten offensive rebounds, and N.C. State was just a minus-4 (seven second-chance points) in that statistical category.
Ennis, Fair and Grant are still to be respected, as all are gifted enough to make opponents pay when they’re on. But the percentages can’t be ignored when discussing Syracuse’s chances of getting to the Final Four. Regardless of where they’re seeded, Syracuse needs to regain its offensive “mojo” and quickly.