It happened again. For the second time in a week, Syracuse had one of the premiere programs in the ACC in its own building with a chance to win and could not close it out. This time, it was against Virginia, the No. 6 team in the country. What would have been a statement win slipped through SU’s fingers, much like it did against North Carolina last Tuesday. Let’s hand out some grades:
Maliq Brown A-
In his second game as a starter, Maliq Brown was his usual reliable self. The freshman scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds while hanging around the basket all game. Literally, all game. Benny Williams was not in the building, which meant it was either Brown or John Bol Ajak at the four. Boeheim clearly wanted to ride his freshman as far as he could, and Brown delivered, as he usually does.
Jesse Edwards B-
Edwards began the game timidly. Despite being matched up against Ben Vander Plas, who weighs about the same as the SU center (listed at 236 pounds), but is only 6’8 compared to Edwrads’ 6’11. Edwards struggles against stronger defenders, but, even so, he was not aggressive enough early. That got better as the game went on and the Dutchman finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Still, though, the pick-and-roll game is nowhere to be found. And, of course, the old fouling out issue resurfaced. It came on a costly charge with a minute to go down by two.
Judah Mintz B
The missed free throws hurt. Mintz was outstanding as a scorer, with 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting. The jumper was falling and he was getting to the rim effectively. However, three missed foul shots including two on one trip killed a potential momentum swing for Syracuse late. Also, Mintz didn’t have his usual passing prowess, with only one assist in 35 minutes. You have to give him credit for the scoring element, but it was far from a complete game.
Joe Girard D
Seven points on 3/12 from the field, including one of four tries from three. Just not good enough from Girard, who now has back-to-back games in single figures, including Saturday against Virginia Tech. The fact that Syracuse could have won this game without a good performance from Girard is impressive, considering how many games the senior has essentially carried SU to a win this year. But, tonight, when him stepping up would have made the ultimate difference, he did not.
Justin Taylor C+
The freshman came out hot. He entered the game 14 seconds in after a Chris Bell turnover, and scored five quick points, but was silent, finishing with just those five in 31 minutes of action. Taylor also only had two rebounds and turned the ball over three times. He did not build off his 12 point performance in Blacksburg.
Chris Bell C+
As mentioned, Bell was taken out 14 seconds into the game after a turnover. He re-entered the game early in the second half and did some nice things, including a made three and getting fouled on another three and making all of his free throws. Jim Boeheim liked the way in which he bounced back, and hopes it can springboard Bell to success.