|We hated being there as much as you hated how Syracuse has been playing|
Syracuse has sputtered the second half of its final Big East season. Offensive woes. That's the bottom line. So you can imagine why we haven't been quick or excited to do game recaps around here. But, for the sake of posterity, I'll share a few words about each of the final three regular season games here on the cusp of Syracuse's final run through the Big East Tournament.
Exactly a week after the big record-setting game in the Dome against Georgetown, the Louisville Cardinals came in for another important late-season game. The Orange was looking for a season sweep of Louisville, while the Cardinals wanted to steal a game. While not quite as bad as the Orange offensive effort from the week before, Syracuse still had a hard time scoring in this one. The victory goes to Louisville, 58-53.
- The Syracuse offense was three players: CJ Fair (19), James Southerland (13), and Michael Carter-Williams (11).
- Syracuse shot 20-56 (35.7%) from the field, and 5-13 (38.5%) from three.
- Brandon Triche had another Brandon Triche game, 2-11 including 0-3 from three.
- Syracuse turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 16 Louisville points.
- To be fair, Louisville didn't shoot or play any better than Syracuse. This was actually a gritty, back and forth game for much of the time. Unfortuately Louisville grabbed the lead near the end and kept it just out of reach for Syracuse.
The final Big East game in the Carrier Dome, and we get DePaul? Not a thrilling match-up, for sure, but the way things have been going for Syracuse, it was nice to see this caliber opponent round out the home schedule. Not a guaranteed win, of course. And that was evident at the start of the game, as Syracuse was slow out of the gate. Slow to the point where we started thinking "Oh know, could this really be happening?" But the Orange picked things up, brought a lead into halftime, and never looked back. Syracuse wins its regular season home finale 78-57.
- As the final score indicates, the Orange offense woke up a bit in this one, compared to recent games. Four Orangemen were in double-digit scoring: James Southerland (22), CJ Fair (16), Brandon Triche (15), and Michael Carter-Williams (10).
- But to say the offense was better is a little misleading; Syracuse still only shot 26-67 (38.8%), and an abysmal 2-18 (11.1%) from three. Credit the 22 offensive rebounds leading to 21 Syracuse second chance points to really reflect how Syracuse was able to get 78 points on the board.
- Syracuse also dominated in the paint, 40-26.
- Bottom line is, DePaul just isn't very good.
- James Southerland had a double double and a start on Senior Night. So, good for him.
This was possibly one of the most anticipated games of the season. Possibly the last game between two long-time rivals as Big East members (unless they meet again in the Big East Tournament); final game of the regular season; ESPN's College Gameday. This game looked really good when the schedule was released. But as Syracuse's season went on and fell into this sinkhole (see what I did there with the recent news reference?), this game started looking scary. The Hoyas have been playing at the top of their game, and with a win over Syracuse would earn the Big East regular season title. And so, on such a big stage where Syracuse just had to step up, they didn't. Georgetown won 61-39.
- Neither team got off to a great start in this one. Offense was pretty slow-going and hard to find. At 11-11 with 10:58 to go in the first half, that's just as close as Syracuse would ever come in this one. Georgetown scored at 9:49 to make it 14-11 and never relinquished the lead.
- Even so, Syracuse kept scratching back throughout the first half. The Hoyas might go on a bit of a run, but Syracuse would find itself right back in the game. It was just never enough.
- Eventually, in the second half, Georgetown built such a lead in the game that you knew there just wasn't enough time left for Syracuse to come back, especially with the way they had been playing.
- Michael Carter-Williams had 17 points to lead the Orange in scoring, which is nearly half of the 39 points Syracuse managed to score. No other Syracuse players had double digit scores.
- Syracuse only made 15 shots on 41 attempts (31.9%) and went a horribly cold 1-11 (9.1%) from three. Meanwhile, Georgetown shot 42%, 40.9% from three, knocking down nine threes.
- Those threes by Georgetown seemed to come at times when Syracuse was trying to crawl back into the game or gain momentum. So really, it was like nine daggers.
- Syracuse did a number on Otto Porter this time around, especially in the first half, but it was at the expense of players like Markel Starks, who hit five of the nine threes.
- Syracuse only had three second-chance points.
- Showing zone and man defenses, the Hoya effort was just as effective -- if not more so --- than they were in the Carrier Dome a couple weeks ago. The best stat to show this (besides the 39 points allowed): Syracuse had one four assists. Four.
- It also didn't help that Syracuse coughed up the ball 14 times.
And so, Syracuse ends the regular season with an overall record of 23-8, a Big East record of 11-7, and a five seed in the Big East Tournament. Syracuse will face the winner of the BET's opening round game between South Florida and Seton Hall. At this point, the Orange is playing for NCAA Tournament seeding, as well as getting in some good game experience before the do-or-die games. Clearly, shooting needs to improve. I'm not sure how that gets better now at this point in the season, but if anyone can squeeze talent out of a player, it's Jim Boeheim. So sit back, enjoy the final Big East Tournament (as we know it or care to know it), and see what Syracuse can put together. Keep it here for ongoing and more up-to-date BET coverage. I promise, we'll be on top of it!