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.
Birthdays are special events, with people having the opportunity to celebrate their life to that point in time. Just as important as the day itself are the moments, whether it’s a message from a friend or family member or a present that is worth much more than its monetary value.
Longtime Syracuse fan Henrietta Auer received a birthday present she’ll always cherish just days before her 100th birthday, as she visited with her favorite basketball team on Thursday according to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard. Among the things Auer got to do during her time with the Orange was chat with head coach Jim Boeheim and receive birthday wishes from some of the players as well.
As Auer sat courtside, C.J. Fair came over to wish her a happy birthday. So did Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis.
“She just kept saying ‘Wow! Wow!” Jan Lozito, Auer’s daughter, said. When Auer got to meet Boeheim, however, she could barely talk. “She was speechless.”
Auer will turn 100 next Friday and we wish her a Happy Birthday, and by the looks of things it’s off to a great start a week prior to the actual event.
Syracuse doesn’t necessarily have the offensive game to blow out unranked opponents, but the No. 4 Orange are used to winning tight games. Jim Boeheim’s ballclub bounced back from Saturday’s loss to Duke to knock off Maryland 57-55 on Monday for an ACC road win.
The Orange gave up a late run to Maryland and allowed the Terrapins a final shot down two with 3.5 seconds left, but Seth Allen’s three-point attempt was off as the buzzer sounded.
While the win wasn’t pretty for Syracuse, they once again showed a penchant for winning close games. Although the Orange lost two straight to Boston College and Duke, they’ve won close games against Miami (twice), Pitt, NC State and Notre Dame this season and usually have someone step up to win them the game when its on the line.
On Monday, Syracuse got big shots from multiple players. C.J. Fair (17 points) rattled home a three-pointer from the corner with 3:06 left to put the Orange up by six and on the next Syracuse possession, Trevor Cooney’s (nine points) spinning drive and free-throw line jumper gave the Orange their final necessary field goal to close out the game. From there, Tyler Ennis (team-high 20 points) made a free throw to put the pressure on and the Orange escaped again.
But Syracuse has to be concerned in these games in which only two players contribute most of their points. It’s not that Syracuse can’t win games in the 50s like they did on Monday — because they’re more than comfortable with that — but in the case of Maryland, because Seth Allen got hot from the perimeter, just one player was almost able to knock off a top-5 team.
The Orange are really good, really balanced and the 2-3 zone causes issues, but there are going to be nights they need to make sure one guy doesn’t get hot enough to beat them if their offense isn’t clicking.
This was a tough road win for Syracuse following Saturday’s loss and the Orange have to be happy about getting out of Maryland with a ‘W’.