Welp, it would have been fun. Syracuse was in it against 7th-ranked Tennessee until the end. A 12-0 Volunteer run made the game more lopsided than the final score would indicate in a 73-56 Orange loss. Let’s hand out some grades from SU’s first loss of the season.
JUDAH MINTZ: C+
Not a great day for Syracuse’s floor general. Mintz went just 4-14 from the field, but the troubling number is 6-10 from the FT line. It’s awesome when you go to the charity stripe as much as Mintz does, he’s one of the best players in Division I at doing that. You have to capitalize on those opportunities in what was a tight-knit game for most of the contest. Four turnovers is also not an ideal number.
JJ STARLING: B-
Similarly to Mintz, Starling struggled from the field with just a 4-13 mark and going 1-2 on free throws. But he continues to show prowess as a passer, which he didn’t do at Notre Dame. Starling had five assists and four boards tonight. But also like Mintz, he turned the ball over four times. You’d really like Starling to shoot at a more efficient clip from all three levels.
CHRIS BELL: A-
Bell picked up right where he left off against Colgate last week. The sophomore once again led the Orange in scoring with 16 points, but only had two makes from beyond the arc. 18 of his 25 points against the Raiders were from three, just six of 16 fell into that category today. He still leaves plenty to be desired from a rebounding perspective though.
JUSTIN TAYLOR: B-
It was a terrible day offensively for Taylor, he couldn’t find the bottom of the bucket in four attempts. But the mark of a great player is contributing when you’re not scoring, and Taylor did just that with seven rebounds. Two steals as well on the defensive end is something to admire. If Taylor can get it going on the offensive end, he’ll be just fine over the rest of the tournament.
NAHEEM MCLEOD: D
His rim-front presence defensively was excellent, his free throw shooting and rebounding was not. When you’re 7-4, it feels like you should be getting more than than three rebounds over 21 minutes. Also, it doesn’t matter how tall you are, 1-4 at the free throw line is unacceptable. McLeod has drawn ire defensively in the wake of the Colgate game, he did himself no favors tonight.
Kyle Cuffe, Maliq Brown, Benny Williams, and Quadir Copeland all saw 10+ minutes off the bench (and Peter Carey saw one minute so he won’t be factored in this). Williams’ red-hot start helped boost this grade, because it was a troubling day for Cuffe, Brown, and Copeland. Neither of the guards could get their rhythm going offensively, and the forwards looked lost defensively at times. It won’t get easier for them tomorrow, can they adjust to the best competition they’ve seen all season?
ADRIAN AUTRY: B-
The head man’s grade would be higher if the Orange hadn’t let the game completely slip away over the final three minutes, but overall he’s got a lot to be proud of. In SU’s first true test of the season it kept it tight with the seventh-best team in the country for 37 minutes, which is a major step in the right direction. It’s always been about playing a full 40 with Autry and his team, when will it come though?