What an outstanding response from this team and one heck of a win. Syracuse was absolutely annihilated by North Carolina on Saturday and responded by knocking off Pittsburgh 69-58. It’s the first ACC road win of Adrian Autry’s career and, more important, currently sits as a Quad-1 victory. There’s a lot to like in today’s report card.
JUDAH MINTZ: B
Mintz’s 3-13 shooting mark will impress nobody. His work in other areas will. The sophomore still got to the free throw line eight times, and was a major presence on the glass with nine boards to go along with five assists. His shot selection wasn’t spectacular either, the crowd might have rattled him just a bit. It’s a big learning experience though, this will not be the last hostile environment he has to deal with.
JJ STARLING: A
A big game offensively he had. Starling tallied 17 points on 7-11 shooting, with a lot of those makes coming from mid-range. That is the JJ Starling we need to see the rest of the season. It’s highly unlikely he shoots at that clip for the rest of the season, but when he is shooting with confidence this team’s offensive identity completely changes for the better.
CHRIS BELL: A-
For a moment, it looked like Bell might have one of those games. The sharpshooter had 10 points in the first half, and while he was kept off the scoresheet in the second, all 10 of them helped the Orange build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The stats won’t show it, but Bell was also very active on defense and in transition. We still want more rebounding from him, we’ll always want more rebounding from him, but a solid effort all around.
JUSTIN TAYLOR: B+
Taylor has gotten a lot of flack for being an inconsistent shooter, but what hasn’t been brought up in those discussions has been his much-improved rebounding. The sophomore brought in five boards over 18 minutes. That’s why he’s still in the starting lineup. Taylor also knocked down both of his threes today. The frustration about his shooting is justified, but he has not gotten enough praise for his rebounding this year. If Taylor discovers some offensive consistency, look out.
MALIQ BROWN: B
You’d like Brown to score a little more- he had Syracuse’s first two points of the day then did not attempt another field goal. But he was active on the glass, had some key steals late, and was a disruptive presence near the restricted area. With the news breaking after the game that Naheem McLeod is out for season, Brown’s role just got even more important. He was already seeing more minutes, that number will likely increase further.
Once again, the bench unit came to play against Pitt. Benny Williams and Quadir Copeland both have a knack go off against the Panthers, and they combined for 15 points and 10 boards. Not the numbers we saw two-and-a-half weeks ago, but a solid output all the same. Combine that with good minutes from Kyle Cuffe, Peter Carey, and Mounir Hima, and you’d be hard-pressed to complain about what you saw today.
ADRIAN AUTRY: A+
What a response. The first three road games of Autry’s career could not have been tougher- Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina, but that’s all for nought now. There’s a strong argument to be made that this was easily the most complete basketball game his team has played. That’s what Autry has tried to get his team to do all season. Play a complete 40 minutes and not let up at the end of the game. Syracuse did just that, and Autry has a lot to build on heading into Miami on Saturday.