In what could be a final Big East tussle with nemesis Louisville, #12 Syracuse (22-7, 10-6) falls 58-53. The end of the regular season has not been kind to the Orange. Four of the last five games of the season are against ranked opponents, and the loss to Georgetown last weekend snapped the 38-game home winning streak. The ugly loss to the Hoyas also started what is now a three-game skid.
Now losers of four of the last six, Orange Nation is pointing fingers. Senior Brandon Triche is supposed to be a leader, but was dismal again, going 2-for-11 from the field including 0-for-3 from deep. He finished with almost as many turnovers as points (8 to 7).
Michael Carter-Williams had 11 points, and shot only 3-of-10. He also looked out of control when the Orange needed smart possessions late. C.J. Fair led the team with 19 points, but needed 20 shots to get there. The offense has run aground, unable to create high-percentage shots, nor knock down the open looks when they’re there. The attack looks erratic and unconfident. There is no production coming from the post: Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita and Dajuan Coleman combined for two points.
The late season swoon has officially been declared an emergency. If the bigs down low can’t score, at least they can rebound and play good defense. But Rak contributed only three rebounds and four fouls. The skid raises questions about Syracuse’s future in the NCAA tournament. After having an inside track to winning the Big East regular season crown, the Orange sit tied for 5th in the league standings now. A tall task awaits SU next weekend at Georgetown. The Orange could be a six or seven seed at Madison Square Garden.
To accomplish anything in March the offense needs to find ways to beat the zone. The ball is not moving, the guards are making poor decisions, and shots aren’t falling. The Orange has been careless with the ball, and there’s little offensive rebounding to turn misses into baskets.
There’s still hope the Orange have enough time to turn this around. After the game Jim Boeheim insisted he still liked this team. But without some major improvements it could be a very short stay in March for SU.
Posted: Austin Pollack