Oh. So. Close.
Maybe this game should not have felt as big as it did, but when you’re reeling as bad as Syracuse is and the opponent has a tiny little number next to its name, it’s going to feel a lot bigger.
It certainly felt like the Orange played up to the hype of the game. SU’s 101-90 double overtime loss to No. 23 Florida State was one of the best performances we’ve seen out of the Orange this season.
This game seemed lost at the half. On the road and down by 10 to a team that struggled shooting in the first half, but its track record showed that it was bound to make plenty of threes in the second half. But that certainly didn’t knock the Orange down. SU scored 53 second half points to force an overtime, which turned into two.
We here at the Fizz put out a poll earlier in the week asking who was to blame for the, at the time, three game slide:
FIZZ FEEDBACK: Who’s to blame more for the latest Syracuse struggles?
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) January 12, 2018
Well, all three of them must have seen it. This is the best coaching job we have seen out of Jim Boeheim this season. He got a young group to make important halftime adjustments and explode in the second half. Tyus Battle played his best college game with a career-high 37 points. Frank Howard did foul out at a crucial point in the game, but also had 13 points and finished with more assists (5) than turnovers (4) for the first time in an ACC game.
Heck, even Howard Washington played the best game of his college career. Boeheim opted for some smaller, three guard lineups, which liberated the freshman to the tune of nine points in 24 minutes, while just committing one turnover.
Ultimately, the Orange was doomed by what will be its Achilles heel for the remainder of the season: depth. Things got so dire for SU that it was forced to turn to walk-on Braedon Bayer in the second overtime after three players fouled out. As frustrated as people are about Geno Thorpe’s shaky start, this is the major effect of his unexpected departure. Syracuse has nobody you can depend on for a bucket off the bench. Thorpe provided flashes of that during his brief tenure.
So how should Orange fans feel after that loss? A 1-4 start to ACC play is far from ideal. While some may argue that the 2015-16 Final Four team also started conference play that way, that team also had extenuating circumstances that helped it sneak into the tournament, like a tournament win down in the Bahamas and Mike Hopkins sudden thrust into the head coaching role. All of these factors led to the Orange’s bid.
This year, SU does not have that luxury. Sure, at the time there were no bad losses in the non-conference to speak of, but both Kansas and St. Bonaventure have fallen off since their wins over SU. The Jayhawks loss will never look bad, but the Bonnies one could, especially if they are not in contention for the Atlantic 10 championship.
So what should SU fans be feeling after this loss? Well, it’s complicated. If you think about it, all the road games have been really close, two of which have come against ranked teams. Those shouldn’t hurt. However, there were multiple games SU had at its fingertips. Notre Dame, Wake Forest, St. Bonaventure and this FSU loss are all ones that the Orange would like to have back. Or at least half of them. Now, the only saving grace is that there are resume building opponents on the schedule, however, this young Syracuse team has not proven that it is capable of such wins.