SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 13:  Jaylen Johnson #10 of the Louisville Cardinals and Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange react to a loose ball during the first half at the Carrier Dome on February 13, 2017 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)

No. 8 Louisville takes down Syracuse in overtime

Leave a comment

Louisville was able to hold off Syracuse in overtime as the No. 8 Cardinals held on for a 76-72 ACC road win over the Orange on Monday night. With a chance to tie with two free throws with 2.7 seconds left, Syracuse senior missed both of them.

After blowing a late lead in regulation the Cardinals were able to rally in overtime and hold on once again during a late Syracuse charge as the Orange lost their second straight game.

Donovan Mitchell led Louisville with 16 points while Quentin Snider had 14 points as five Cardinals finished in double figures.

The win keeps Louisville tied for second in the ACC with a crowded field at the top. With the NCAA tournament men’s basketball selection committee naming Louisville as a No. 2 seed — and No. 7 overall — this was a solid road win over a potential tournament team.

Here are two takeaways from this one:

1. Louisville needs to figure out how to close

Louisville will certainly take a conference road win against a team like Syracuse but this game also offered a disturbing trend in which the Cardinals nearly blew late leads in both regulation and overtime.

Now that Snider has returned from injury, the Cardinals have plenty of backcourt options to help close out games but Louisville continually missed free throws and had some poor offensive possessions while holding the lead late.

When Snider was out with injury, Louisville really seemed to get in an offensive groove as they were putting up a lot of points while getting some blowout wins. Things have slowed down with Snider back in the lineup and I still think he and Mitchell are figuring out the best way to share the ball and co-exist in the Louisville backcourt.

Syracuse also wanted to keep the tempo a bit slower than Louisville usually likes to play with its zone but the Cardinals offense spent time sputtering at the end of both halves.

Deng Adel will have better games than his off-night on Monday but the Cardinals need to figure a few things out on offense during this final regular season stretch.

2. Syracuse missed another chance at a signature win

With the Orange currently fighting hard for one of the last at-large bids in the NCAA tournament, this is the kind of loss that could come back to bite Syracuse. While Louisville certainly deserves credit for the win, the Orange’s offense was very stagnant for a good portion of the second half.

Now with two consecutive losses, Syracuse needs to finish at least .500 to feel comfortable heading into the ACC tournament. The Orange get two games with Georgia Tech — and winning in Atlanta has not been easy this season — as well as a home game against Duke and a road return to Louisville.

We’ve seen that the Orange can go toe-to-toe with the Cardinals but it feels like Syracuse might need to beat either Duke or Louisville to feel comfortable.

Syracuse also deserves credit for two late comebacks when they could have quit fighting. Most of the team struggled offensively. Senior Andrew White was only 2-for-14 from three-point range but he still figured out ways to score late as he totaled 22 points.

Beachem’s career day leads No. 15 Irish over Syracuse

SOUTH BEND, IN - JANUARY 21: Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange holds the ball as V.J. Beachem #3 and Rex Pflueger #0 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defend at Purcell Pavilion on January 21, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) When V.J. Beachem gets to the rim, opportunities open up for him and No. 15 Notre Dame.

Midway through the first half Saturday against Syracuse, Beachem streaked along the baseline and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk. Next trip down the court, there was Beachem again with another flush off a nifty behind-the-back pass from Matt Farrell.

Beachem decided to take it outside from there, banging home consecutive 3-pointers in a personal 10-2 run that broke things open for the Irish in an 84-66 victory over the Orange.

Beachem finished with a career-high 30 points for Notre Dame which snapped a four-game losing streak against Syracuse.

“The drive really opens up the outside shot for me,” Beachem said. “When you can get into the middle of the lane and make everybody look and collapse, that’s when the outside really opens up.”

Farrell added 15 points and nine assists for the Irish, who were coming off a three-point loss at No. 10 Florida State that stopped a seven-game winning streak.

“V.J. was fabulous,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “When we can get him flowing like that, it’s a confidence-giver to his teammates.”

On an unseasonably warm January day for Northern Indiana, with temperatures in the 50s, Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was hot from outside, hitting 11 3-pointers against the Syracuse zone.

“We were really anxious to play against (the zone),” Beachem said. “The way we play offensively, we felt like we’d be fine against it.”

Beachem tied his career high with six 3s and added seven rebounds. He finished 12 of 22 from the field and his point total was the most by an Irish player since Bonzie Colson had 31 against Duke last season.

“Beachem, we just couldn’t get to him,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s a tremendous shooter and we just didn’t get to him.”

Despite sitting much of the first half with foul trouble, Colson still finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season. Steve Vasturia added 11 points.

Tyler Lydon had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse (11-9, 3-4). Tyus Battle added 17 points and Andrew White III had 16.

“We can’t win with just three guys against anybody,” Boeheim said. “We have to have more guys. I can’t even describe how disappointed I am in a couple guys on our team.”

After being outrebounded by 20 in a loss to North Carolina on Monday, the Orange were again beaten on the boards, 39-28. Syracuse also struggled from deep, going just 6 of 19 from 3-point range.

“I think our defense was really the key today,” Brey said.

Notre Dame took a 16-point lead early in the second half with a 9-0 run and led by double digits the rest of the way. Rex Pflueger’s 3 with just over 4 minutes left gave the Irish their largest lead of 22 points.

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse: The Orange are 0-5 on the road and have yet to beat a ranked team, after being ranked as high as No. 16 earlier in the season.

Notre Dame: The Irish have yet to lose consecutive games this season and figured out a response after dropping their first ACC game on Wednesday.

RING OF HONOR

Former All-America guard David Rivers was inducted into Notre Dame’s ring of honor at halftime. Rivers, who played from 1984-88, scored over 2,000 points in his career and was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988.

Rivers, who comes from a family of 15 children in Jersey City, NJ, nearly died in a car accident in 1986, but came back and averaged 22 points per game in his final season at Notre Dame.

Former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps has called Rivers the best player he’s ever coached.

“When I hear that, it’s humbling,” Rivers said before Saturday’s game. “I take it as one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive, and I just move on, because I’m familiar with some of these names that are up there (in the ring of honor) already. It’s just awesome company.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Following a close loss at No. 10 Florida State on Wednesday, the Irish don’t figure to slide much after keeping pace with the ACC’s top teams.

UP NEXT

Syracuse: The Orange return home for two, starting with Wake Forest on Tuesday before No. 10 Florida State visits on Saturday.

Notre Dame: The Irish host three of their next four, beginning with No. 16 Virginia on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

Could a shortened rotation be the recipe for a Syracuse turnaround?

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  John Gillon #4 of the Syracuse Orange dribbles up court against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Syracuse struggled for the non-conference part of the season and opened ACC play with a shocking loss to Boston College.

At 8-6, many weren’t sure if the Orange could turn it around quickly enough in a deep ACC to make a serious postseason run. Over the last two games the Orange have won twice and looked like a different team as head coach Jim Boeheim has gone to a shorter rotation.

In a win over Miami on Wednesday, the Orange only made one second-half substitution in the first 30 seconds before settling in on five guys to ride out the game. On Saturday, the Orange blew out Pitt, 77-66, in a game that was a 20-point difference for much of the contest. Boeheim only played six players in this one. Six players. Even though he was up double digits all of the second half he didn’t change things up.

Senior guard John Gillon has been a huge story with his play in the ACC. Entering the season many pegged the graduate transfer from Colorado State as not a “true” point guard and more of a scorer. Through the early part of the season, that scouting report appeared to be mostly correct. Gillon could score but he wasn’t doing a consistent job of being a distributor early in the year. Now he has back-to-back games with 11 assists after an outstanding 20 points and 11 dimes in the win over Pitt.

Gillon now has 25 assists to only four turnovers so far in three ACC games and his development as a distributor could be a key to Syracuse’s season. When you add in Gillon’s scoring capabilities — specifically his long-range shooting — and the Orange offense can really make plays as they did in the win over Pitt. Gillon was 6-for-12 from three-point range and helped Syracuse do a lot of damage on Saturday.

Gillon, Andrew White and Tyus Battle handle the brunt of the perimeter responsibilities among this new Syracuse rotation while Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson and Taurean Thompson are the interior players. With Lydon’s ability to play a bit on the perimeter it makes for some intriguing floor-spacing lineups for the Orange.

Boeheim has gone to small rotations and played teams for heavy minutes before but we’ll have to see how this team handles it. While Gillon, White and Roberson are all battle-tested seniors, Lydon is a sophomore and Battle and Thompson are freshmen. We’ll also have to see if players like DaJuan Coleman and Franklin Howard can work into the rotation at all and how they handle being demoted so severely.

This is an important upcoming stretch for Syracuse. They get a revenge home game against Boston College that should be a win but they have three road games at Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Notre Dame around that. Three road games against Tournament-caliber opponents should be a real test to see if Boeheim sticks with this rotation and how it performs.

So can Syracuse correct itself and make the NCAA tournament? They’re going to have the opportunities to do so. This four-game stretch should be a huge indicator of how things will look in the future.

Tyler Lydon exits Syracuse game with strained Achilles

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Kentan Facey #12 of the Connecticut Huskies battles for the ball against Tyus Battle #25 and Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
2 Comments

Syracuse has struggled offensively for much of this season as sophomore forward Tyler Lydon recently started to look alive with a big outing against Georgetown.

But the 6-foot-9 forward exited Syracuse’s game against Eastern Michigan on Monday as he strained his right Achilles late in the first half. The Orange held Lydon out of the second half for precautionary reasons as I’m sure they’ll do a full examination after the game.

Lydon’s injury doesn’t seem too serious for now, but the Orange are off to a sluggish 7-4 start as they really need the sophomore healthy and performing.

Luckily for Syracuse they don’t have any important games coming up and they open up ACC play against Boston College. Lydon will have plenty of time to get healthy before the Jan. 4 game against Miami.

Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu out after has eye surgery

SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Paschal Chukwu #13 of the Syracuse Orange pulls in a rebound during the first half against the South Carolina State Bulldogs on November 22, 2016 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Paschal Chukwu
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Syracuse announced on Saturday morning that sophomore center Paschal Chukwu had a procedure to repair a torn retina in his right eye. The 7-foot-2 Chukwu will be out indefinitely recovering from the procedure.

The eye had been bothering Chukwu since November when the reserve big man took a errant pass off his face. Chukwu said the ball hit him directly in the eye and gave him blurred vision as he wore goggles for a little bit during the next game.

Chukwu has missed two of the last three games for Syracuse and played 10 minutes in a win over Boston last Saturday.

A Providence transfer who sat out last season, Chukwu averaged 1.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Orange this season.

Unselfish Nigel Hayes leads No. 17 Wisconsin past No. 22 Syracuse for easy win

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 29:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers guards against Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the first half at the Kohl Center on November 29, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Wisconsin looked like a veteran team with an efficient offense as they easily beat No. 22 Syracuse, 77-60, on Tuesday night at the Kohl Center.

The No. 17 Badgers showed tremendous patience moving the ball and they took a lot of good shots as they were able to pick apart Syracuse’s 2-3 zone by moving it from side-to-side.

This was the kind of Wisconsin that looked like it could hang with anyone in the country as they shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range.

And it’s all because senior forward Nigel Hayes didn’t hunt his own shot.

Hayes has been criticized the last two seasons for taking too many three-pointers and showing poor shot selection as he’s transitioned from role player to go-to guy. The last two seasons he’s shot 29 percent from three-point range but he’s still attempting over 3.8 per game.

But the version of Hayes we saw against Syracuse was a major reminder of why he’s considered one of the Big Ten’s best players. Playing at the elbows against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, Hayes showed his gifted passing ability while also taking smarter shots. Hayes finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists — missing a triple-double only because he was 4-for-11 from the field.

Although he didn’t shoot a great percentage, Hayes was able to move the ball from side-to-side or get it down low to sophomore Ethan Happ as Syracuse’s defense had no response. Happ is Wisconsin’s most productive and efficient player on most nights and he finished with 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting with 13 rebounds.

And Hayes didn’t shoot a three-pointer for the second consecutive game.

After going 1-for-7 from three-point range in the Maui Invitational loss to North Carolina, clearly, Hayes received the message — if you can’t hit three-pointers on the soft rims of Maui, it might be time to re-evaluate your shot selection.

Hayes has taken better shots since returning to the mainland and if he continues to get Happ more touches while not hunting threes then it could be huge for Wisconsin’s offensive efficiency. This version of Wisconsin’s offense looked really balanced and strong.

Because the Badgers can also put Vitto Brown at the top of the key — or anywhere on the floor since he can pass and hit threes — their guards could attack from the wings against Syracuse’s zone with good side-to-side movement. This enabled senior Bronson Koenig to finish with 20 points on 6-for-9 three-point shooting as he had an outstanding game on the offensive end.

Syracuse was led by Andrew White’s 14 points while senior center DaJuan Coleman finished with 12 points. The Orange’s 2-3 zone still has a lot of room for improvement, and since it’s a bigger lineup with three forwards, they have trouble with some quicker lineups.

Offensively, the Orange also don’t have a true identity right now and some guys are trying to do too much on their own. Sophomore Tyler Lydon also seemed content to hang on the perimeter as a catch-and-shoot option as he finished with nine points on 4-for-9 shooting. Lydon was only 1-for-6 from three-point range.

The Orange had to battle foul trouble in the first half and struggled to catch up once they fell behind in the first half. Syracuse didn’t appear prepared for this kind of road test and they’ve now dropped two straight after falling to South Carolina in Brooklyn this weekend. Syracuse still has plenty of talent but they have to fix some things quickly before ACC play.