Syracuse’s Sweet 16 matchup with Wisconsin was the 40-minute dogfight we had expected, and predictably it came down to the last shot. The Badgers had a chance to send top seeded Syracuse home, but Jordan Taylor’s three came up short. The Fizz breaks down how SU defended the final possession.
All game long the SU guards only extended the zone out to the three-point line, but not on the last play. Jim Boeheim threw a wrinkle in the zone by expanding nearly to half court, with Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine trying to trap Taylor. It was a smart coaching move by The Per’fesser, since JT is the Badgers’ best playmaker. This forced him to get the ball out of his hands early, as he dished it off to Rob Wilson who was never in the flow of the offense all game.
Once Wilson got the ball, C.J. Fair pressed up from his wing and got right into RW’s face. It was a risky move by Fair since it left an entire side of the zone open. Fortunately for SU Wilson didn’t see a wide open Josh Gasser in the corner, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered. Wisconsin had decided Taylor would take the last shot and he had already drained five threes on the night. JT would take the final shot and SU knew it.
Wilson immediately gave the rock back to Jordan about 10 feet beyond the arc, and JT was going to shoot it. It would be a very deep three, a shot you want your opponent to take. Waiters wasn’t going to let #11 have an uncontested look at the hoop, and jumped out putting a hand in his face. It was a great play by Dion and perfect defense. Waiters didn’t foul and made the shot as difficult as possible. DW’s job there is to take Taylor out of the play, and he did that by pressing up, and getting a hand in his face. Defense had been an achilles heel for Waiters earlier in his career, but big players step up at big moments. This time Dion did it on the defense end. Taylor’s shot was short, and the Badgers were left was a desperation lob at the rim that was nowhere close.
Wisconsin was a team built to beat SU. The Badgers don’t turn it over (only six on the game), and they make jump shots. Wisconsin was also NBA Jam on fire from beyond the arc, dropping in 14 treys on the Orange. It was the perfect combination to dethrone this Orange team, but SU made more plays. Survive and advance, just like the first weekend. Syracuse is still alive thanks to great defense when it mattered most.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert