1 Comments Published on 3.25.2010 by Brian Harrison
And just like that... poof. Like Keyser Soze, the season has vanished. We went from losing to a Division 2 team across town, and being picked to finish sixth in the league, to winning the Big East regular season title and achieving a #1 ranking during the year. I'll get to the season later, but bracketing expectations and the like, this game was not good at all. Syracuse did not play their game and Butler was able to capitalize. The Orange go down thanks to Butler 63 to 59.
Syracuse started poorly, allowing Butler to get an 11-1 lead. Butler expanded their lead by capitalizing on Syracuse turnovers, bringing their biggest lead to 12. Finally Syracuse was able to get the ball inside to cut the lead to only ten points at the half. Syracuse took the lead with 13:29 to go in the game, but Syracuse was unable to create separation due to quick, ill advised three point attempts, turnovers, or a combination therein. Syracuse did manage to get a four point lead but lucky bounces on three point attempts and Syracuse committing unforced errors allowed Butler to get right back in. They ended up holding off Syracuse earning the four point victory over the Orange.
Syracuse's leading scorer was Wes Johnson. He had 17 points on a pretty good shooting day. He was 6-10 from the floor and 1-2 from three point range. He also made four of six free throws. Syracuse's size advantage also allowed him to pull down nine rebounds. While he had a good scoring day he was not as dominating as the previous tournament games he played in. He was unable to lift Syracuse on his back and score when Syracuse truly needed to. Maybe it was because he didn't receive the ball, maybe it was because he just didn't try to make a move. Either way he was unable to go that extra mile.
Andy Rautins added another 15 points from the floor. He shot four of eight from behind the arc and four of nine from the floor. He also added five rebounds, a couple of which led to Syracuse fast break opportunities. A lot of times he couldn't seem to get open off a screen as Butler was playing very good man defense. Andy found it tough to find room to shoot the ball, but when he did it usually went in, much like the previous games in the Tournament. Sadly he led the team in turnovers with five. However, because most of his turnovers came in the first half they probably didn't affect the game as much as other players in that way.
Scoop Jardine also had a good game off the bench again. He had 14 points on 5-13 shooing, 2-6 from distance. While he stroked the ball well from the floor inside the arc especially in transition, he took some ill advised shots from behind the line. Scoop did spur some necessary offense off the penetrating drive and kick.
Kris Joseph was the biggest disappointment for Syracuse in the Tournament and he was not great in this game either. He finished with six points on 2 on 3-8 shooting. He had seven rebounds and was good in transition for Syracuse, but overall was not an offensive force he had been all season.
Brandon Triche also went back to being anemic on the offensive end. He had three points on 1-3 shooting. He disappeared in this game, but was good for a rebound. Sadly he didn't help his assist to turnover ratio.
DaShonte Riley filled the defensive end well as expected. Although he did get beat once or twice by a more experienced center for Butler by giving him the inside edge to pivot around. He was again a huge liability on the offensive end, but his defense was good and for what he has played this year, the five minutes he was in were fine.
Syracuse once again led the other team in offense. Syracuse was 21-48 (43.8%) from the floor and 7-19 (36.8%) from three. Butler shot 21-52 (40.4%) and 6-24 (25%) respectively. Syracuse outrebounded Butler 33 to 27 which was expected. What was not expected was Syracuse's 18 turnovers versus only seven from Butler. This caused Butler to earn that ten point lead in the first half and allowed Butler, while Syracuse shot better, to keep a lead or stay in the game when
Syracuse briefly held their lead.
The story of this game is turnovers. While again Rautins led the team with five, Jackson and Johnson each had three of their own. Jackson's came at more critical times down the stretch. Jackson only earning four points on 2-5 shooting was also mind boggling. Arinze Onuaku was clearly more powerful and dependable in the low post all season, but this was easily Jackson's worst game in the last ten, maybe all season. He has been brilliant ever since a coming out party of sorts in the game against Florida.
The Syracuse defense was as good as it has been all season. It held Butler to 40.4% and only six three point baskets, as well as only 63 points. What Syracuse didn't do was score. Syracuse averages just above 80 points and the Butler defense was outstanding against Syracuse, interrupting passes, causing steals, and preventing anyone from getting really good open looks often.
Syracuse just didn't do what they do best. They didn't make enough threes and they didn't have a good enough presence in the paint. Worst of all they played sloppy like this was the third game in the season instead of the third game in the NCAA Tournament. Turnovers didn't help and part of that related to Syracuse never falling into a good rhythm in this game. They never did all game and Butler ends up surviving and advancing.
Syracuse's next game will now be next season and Orange Nation turns their complete focus to lacrosse again, a team that has a very real chance of earning their third National Championship in a row. We'll be back with a wrap up of this great basketball season we just witnessed, as well as continuing coverage of the lacrosse team. Additionally we will pause and pay proper respect to the big anniversary that this blog just enjoyed. Look for all of this and more next week. For now we root for West Virginia in the tournament, and I rest and rejuvenated by boozing heavily this weekend, adding degenerate gambling to the mix. If I'm not dead I'll be back next week.