Andrew White III had 24 points and John Gillon hadded 21 points and 11 assists as Syracuse picked up a win over No. 6 Florida State on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange also got 14 points, 11 boards and six blocks from Tyler Lydon, who went toe-to-toe with Jonathan Isaac, Florida State’s lottery pick forward.
The Seminoles, like they did in a loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday night, really struggled with the Syracuse zone, particularly in the first half, where they dug themselves an 18-point halftime hole. Isaac finished with 19 points and 12 boards and Dwayne Bacon chipped in with 19 as well, but neither of them really showed up until the second half; 16 of Isaac’s 19 came after the break.
One of the knocks on this Florida State team has been their point guard play. Do they have a playmaker that can create shots? Is Xavier Rathan-Mayes a guy that can make his teammates better? That issue was evident in the first half, as the Seminoles were stymied against that Syracuse zone. Rathan-Mayes finished with 16 points and five assists, but much of that damage came in the second half, when the Seminoles offense flowed much better.
All in all, the loss isn’t all that bad. Syracuse is a team coming off of a trip to the Final Four that has massively underperformed this season and was playing at home. On paper, it’s not that bad of a loss. It’s not going to drop them a couple seed lines in the NCAA tournament. It hurts their chances of winning the ACC regular season title, but it doesn’t hurt as much of the loss at Georgia Tech did on Wednesday.
If it does anything, it creates a blueprint for how to beat FSU: Zone them up.
Along those same lines, it will be interesting to see where Syracuse goes from here. The Orange have not had a great season, but they do have some really nice pieces on their roster. Is this the first step to a late-season run? The Orange are not in the NCAA tournament picture as it stands, but in a league with as many quality wins available as the ACC has, no one is ever that far out of it.