Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 74-69 loss to Virginia
The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team tripped over the Virginia Horsemen by a final score of 74-69 in its ACC home opener. Syracuse rose to 7-6 overall and 1-1 in the league. Virginia has now won seven of the last eight meetings against Syracuse.
Syracuse got off to a slow start and Virginia opened up a 25-13 lead early in dissecting the 2-3 zone, but the Orange closed the gap at halftime thanks to the Boeheim brothers. The score was tied at 33 during intermission after Jesse Edwards scored on a float before the buzzer.
In the second half, Virginia continued to execute against the Syracuse defense 17-27 (63.0%) on shooting. Syracuse kept the game tight late on timely shots, but couldn’t generate the saves needed to overcome the bump. In the end, the defense failed.
Here are our takeaways.
Zone 2-3 defense, where are you?
It is becoming trite to continue discussing the lack of glamor of the 2-3 zone this season, but Syracuse let an average Virginia team shoot 30-57 (52.6%) from the floor. Virginia put the ball into the paint without too much resistance, overloading one side of the zone with clean passes for the dunks. Virginia finished the game with 40-24 points on the edge of the paint.
âCoach Bennett is the best at developing his own attack on the zone,â Buddy Boeheim said after the game. âI’ve seen four different looks in the last four years I’ve played them. They did different things with different staff.
Syracuse entered the night with a defensive efficiency rating of 102.0, ranked No. 189 to Ken Pom. This is considered Syracuse’s worst defense of the Ken Pom era (since 2001-02) and that number is still on the decline.
Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone has generally been the tonic in Syracuse basketball, but the linchpin of an offensive strategy with shooters turned the 2-3 zone into an Achilles heel.
âWe’re not talking about big, we’re talking about a little better. We can be a little better defensively. I think that’s the key, âJim Boeheim said. âVirginia is not a good shooting team and they shot 52%. Obviously our defense is not good enough.
The Boeheim scoring machine is still working
The other side of the ball wasn’t a big deal for Syracuse. The Boeheim brothers continue to carry the offensive load and Jimmy’s first basket of play modus operandi for Syracuse remains mostly unhindered (he has scored the first bucket 11 times in 13 games, to be precise). He made two consecutive 3s to bring his team to the table against Virginia.
And have we ever been really worried about Buddy Boeheim? Even though he leads the scout standings and receives additional defensive attention in the form of doubles teams, he still scores the ball. He started off slow, but found a way to warm up towards the end of the first half, going into bully ball mode and making mistakes. He shot 6-6 from the free throw line in the first half while Jimmy was able to score inside after his first 3s.
In the second half, Virginia tried to tone down Buddy’s offense, shielding screens and doubling up, forcing him to pass the ball. Still, he did some contested shots both from a distance and up close, and Jimmy found opportunities inside, including this transition dunk.
The Boeheims have scored 45 of Syracuse’s 69 points. No other Syracuse player has hit the double digits.
“Offensively Cole [Swider] and Joe [Girard] must be there for us. We got as much as we could expect from Jimmy and as much as we could expect from Buddy, but we’re definitely not going to win with two guys. We have to get Joe back in, âJim Boeheim said.
Brent Ax just called the TNIAAM hotline to let everyone know that free throws, in fact, still count.
It’s hard to pin the game down to just one player, especially when that player finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals. But Syracuse missed an opportunity on the charity strip, shooting 15-23 (65.2%) from the line. Jimmy went 2-8 from the line while Buddy and Jesse Edwards only missed one each.
Even just two more free throws could have changed the way this game was played down the stretch. In a close loss, it’s easy to look at the line first to see where this game could have been won.
Jim Boeheim said after the game, âYou can’t win these games if you go 2-8 from the foul line. Normally I don’t put that on a player, but he’s my son and he has to do them. “