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It’s A Number’s Game: How Does Syracuse Win BC Round Two?

Saturday, Syracuse basketball will play Boston College for the second time in two weeks. The Orange, as we all know, opened ACC play with a 15-point loss to the Eagles on the first day of the New Year. SU has lost some ugly games this season, but Boston College may have been the worst of them. Before beating the Orange, they had lost to Hartford, Harvard, NIcholls State, Fairfield and others. The Orange looked outmatched to a team Jim Boeheim’s squad is much more talented than on paper. If Syracuse wants to win Saturday and keep itself in the black in ACC play, it will have to learn from its mistakes.

Play The 2-3 Zone

You can argue the Orange has had worse losses this season (St. John’s), but the defense was never worse than against Boston College. The Eagles shot 57.1 percent against Syracuse and 61.5 percent (16-26) from behind the arc. Both of those were season highs for the Eagles and the Orange defensively.The 96 points the Eagles scored were the most Syracuse has given up all year. Of course, this game was before the takeover of the Lydon-Roberson-White-Gillon-Battle lineup. Those five appeared to know what they were doing on defense before the Orange gave up 83 points to Virginia Tech (third-most of the year) Tuesday. Jim Boeheim has always played the 2-3 zone, but hasn’t always played it the same way. He’s become very good at tweaking it to work for what he has on the court. He hadn’t figured it out on New Year’s Day, but it needs to be figured out by Saturday.

Share The Ball

Moving the basketball has been the biggest factor in Syracuse’s wins (and losses) this season. The correlation is actually starting to look like causation. 15 is the magic number for Syracuse; the Orange is 10-0 when getting 15 assists or more in a ballgame and 0-7 with 14 or less. Against Virginia Tech, there were too many possessions ended by low-quality shots early in the shot clock, and the offense wasn’t flowing the way it needed to. Syracuse has to move the ball on offense to be successful, which is part of the reason why Jim Boeheim has been preaching better guard play for the majority of the season. John Gillon was that better guard in wins against Miami and Pitt, and someone will have to be it in any games the Orange plans on winning.

Slow Down

Syracuse took 68 shots against Boston College,which is the most it has taken all season. In fact, three of Syracuse’s worst losses (Boston College, St. John’s and Virginia Tech) are in the top four of Syracuse’s field goals attempted in 2016-17. Syracuse took 44 shots in the win against Miami, which is a season-low. The 54 shots against Pitt were the fourth-lowest of the year. In each of those wins, Syracuse’s opponent actually took more shots than the Orange did. For whatever reason, Syracuse can’t play the fast-paced game and win. Boston College took advantage of that the first time around, and hopefully Syracuse learned its lesson.

Posted: Nathan Dickinson

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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