Choose which part of the 73-59 Syracuse loss to Cal you think was the worst, and you’re probably right. Sloppy Orange offense? Yep. Clunky SU shooting? Check. Apathetic ‘Cuse defense? We saw that too. It was a difficult night at Madison Square Garden to be an Orange fan, despite thousands of them coming out to watch.
Cal grabbed control of the game and scoreboard early in the first half and never let up. While Syracuse mounted a few spirited comeback attempts in the second half, it was just never sustained enough to push SU close enough.
It was a surprisingly dull effort by an SU team that has overmatched its first two foes and had a huge home court advantage (as always) in NYC. Once the Iowa/Texas game was over, MSG filled to about 90% Orange fans for the late game. Midway through the second-half, however, many of the SU faithful headed for the exits and into the brisk Manhattan night.
Who could blame them? Syracuse hasn’t looked this leaky early in a season for quite some time. Usually Jim Boeheim has has the ability to plug in younger talent and get them on the same page fairly quickly. The problem, though, is this year there may not be a Tyler Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams or Jerami Grant. And without a glue guy like CJ Fair, the Orange could never find a rhythm within its offense. It was a tough night to watch Kaleb Joseph try to run the attack, he never looked in sync.
Michael Gbinije had a few highlight plays (13 points), but they were too few. Syracuse shot a paltry 4-14 from behind the arc, and allowed Cal to go nearly 50% (26-55) from the field. Cal came into the night unranked, and the lethargic effort caused a few college hoops writers to declare the Orange an NIT team. It’s too early to make any huge proclamation on this SU team. It’s only one game. But for an night, it was ugly.