The 8-seed in the West Region, Syracuse, took on the 9-seed, Baylor, on Thursday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Bears jumped out to an early 15-4 lead after King McClure drained a triple with 15:48 left in the first half. The Orange responded and gained a 28-25 advantage with 6:53 to go before the break when Tyus Battle converted a four-point play. Baylor took a 38-37 lead into halftime. Battle’s dunk with 13:01 remaining in the game gave Syracuse a 53-50 edge. With the score knotted at 57, Jared Butler gave the Bears the lead for good when he nailed a three-pointer with 9:20 to play. Baylor pulled away and earned a 78-69 win.
The Orange were without the services of senior point guard Frank Howard who ended a rollercoaster career by being suspended for failing a drug test. Syracuse was looking to get Howard going in the NCAA Tournament after he tallied a career-high 28 points, on 11-of-20 shooting, when Duke eliminated the Orange from the ACC Tournament a week earlier.
The Bears shot 53.8-percent from the field, including 16-of-34 from deep, which proved to be too much for Syracuse to handle. The Orange shot just 41.2-percent from the floor, including 12-of-29 from beyond the arc in the losing effort.
Baylor was led by Yale-transfer Makai Mason who scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Mason also recorded four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Jared Butler added 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Mario Kegler dropped in 13 points and grabbed four boards.
Elijah Hughes paced Syracuse with 25 points, on 7-of-15-from the field, three rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Battle, who declared for the NBA Draft on Friday, poured in 16 points and dished out three assists in his final game in an Orange uniform. Oshae Brissett finished with 14 points, on 6-of-12 from the floor, and eight boards in the loss.
Syracuse finished the season with a record of 20-14 and a first round exit from the NCAA Tournament—a relatively disappointing result for a team that returned all five starters from a team that made a run to the Sweet Sixteen a season ago.
Baylor’s season was ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when they lost to the 1-seed in the West, Gonzaga, 83-71, in Salt Lake City on Saturday night.
Next season, Syracuse will lose Frank Howard to graduation and Tyus Battle to the NBA Draft, but aside from that, it is unclear what everyone else’s plans are. Paschal Chukwu could apply for an extra season due to having his redshirt-sophomore campaign shortened due to an eye injury. Oshae Brissett may enter the NBA Draft, but it is likely he will return for his junior season after not living up to the hype in his sophomore season. Elijah Hughes, Marek Dolezaj, and Bourama Sidibe will return for their junior seasons, while Buddy Boeheim, Jalen Carey, and Robert Braswell will come back for their sophomore seasons. Howard Washington will join the active roster once again for his redshirt-sophomore season after missing this year recovering from a torn ACL and a stroke. The Orange will add a freshman class of Brycen Goodine, Quincy Guerrier, John Bol Ajak, and New York State’s all-time leading high school scorer, Joe Girard III.
Syracuse entered the ACC Tournament feeling pretty good about their NCAA Tournament chances for the first time since 2013.
Despite being without leading scorer Tyus Battle due a lower back injury, the Orange defeated Pittsburgh, 73-59, in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night. Syracuse trailed the Panthers, 36-30, at halftime, but used an 8-0 run with all 8 points scored by Buddy Boeheim to take a 43-39 lead early in the second stanza. The Orange would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
After shooting 60-percent from three-point range in the first half, Pittsburgh cooled down and shot just 30.8-percent from deep after the break. Conversely, Syracuse heated up from beyond the arc down the stretch, shooting 54.6-percent from three in the second half.
Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 24 points, on 8-of-16 from three-point land, and seven rebounds. Sidy N’Dir added 10 points in the losing effort.
Boeheim paced Syracuse with 20 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Elijah Hughes and Frank Howard scored 18 points apiece. Hughes also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists, and came away with two steals.
The Orange squared off with Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Thursday night. Battle missed his second straight game with a lower back injury. After rallying back from as much as a 17 point deficit in the first half, Syracuse tied the game at 46 on a triple by Boeheim with 13:02 to go. The Blue Devils pulled away down the stretch to win 84-72.
In a turnover plagued affair, Duke outshot the Orange as the Blue Devils shot 53.7-percent from the floor, compared to 48.1-percent shooting for Syracuse.
The real difference in the game was that Duke has the best player in the country and the likely #1 pick in the NBA Draft Zion Williamson. Williamson, who returned after missing five consecutive games with a sprained knee, erupted for 29 points on a perfect 13-of-13 from the floor, 14 rebounds, and five steals. Fellow freshman phenomenon RJ Barrett tallied 23 points, on 8-of-16 from the field, and six rebounds. Freshman point guard Tre Jones finished with 15 points and eight assists.
Howard led the Orange with a career-high 28 points, on 11-of-2o shooting, and three assists. Boeheim poured in 15 points, while Oshae Brissett finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Despite the loss, Syracuse entered the NCAA Tournament with a record of 20-13. Howard was named to the ACC Tournament Second Team, while Williamson was named the MVP after Duke won the championship game over Florida State, 73-63, Saturday night.
Battle is expected to return in the NCAA Tournament, but playing without him in the ACC Tournament gave others the opportunity to step up, specifically, Howard and Boeheim.
Player of the Week: Frank Howard
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Frank Howard. After a lower leg injury caused him to miss the first four games of the season, Howard did not play to the form he showed he was capable of during his junior campaign. The senior point guard averaged 23 points on 50-percent shooting in Battle’s absence at the ACC Tournament. With Battle back and Howard and Boeheim shooting with confidence, the Orange just might be poised to make another run in the “Big Dance.”
Up Next: The NCAA Tournament vs. #9 Baylor
For the first time since 2013, Syracuse did not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday. This year, the Orange were firmly in and earned the 8-seed in the West Region. Syracuse will take on the 9-seed Baylor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tip-off is set for Thursday night at 9:57pm. The game will be seen on truTV. The Bears are 19-13 overall and are coming off an 83-66 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals. Baylor is led by Tristan Clark who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
If the Orange were to defeat the Bears, they would take on the winner of the game between the 1-seed Gonzaga and the 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson, who defeated Prairie View in the First Four Tuesday night.
Syracuse amid Two-Game Skid Heading into the ACC Tournament
After losing to #2 Virginia at home on Monday night, Syracuse traveled to Clemson on Saturday in hopes of avoiding two consecutive losses heading into the ACC Tournament. The Orange jumped out to an early 23-13 lead with 6:48 left in the opening stanza following a free throw by Oshae Brissett. Buddy Boeheim connected on a jumped with 14 seconds left in the frame to give Syracuse a 31-24 advantage at the halftime. Bourama Sidibe made a layup with 15:53 remaining to give the Orange a 38-33 lead. The Tigers responded with a 14-0 run, capped off by a free throw by David Skara, to take a commanding 47-38 advantage with 11:27 to go that would prove to be too much for Syracuse to overcome down the stretch. Clemson pulled away to earn a 67-55 win to improve their NCAA Tournament resume in the regular season finale for both teams.
It was an ugly game for both sides. The Tigers shot just 33.9-percent from the field, including just 5-of-20 from three, and turned the ball over 15 times. On the other hand, the Orange shot it at a 37.5-percent clip, including 6-of-19 from deep, and turned the ball over 18 times. The difference in the game was Clemson’s strength on the glass. The Tigers outrebounded Syracuse 45-30.
Marcquise Reed posted a double-double with 24 points, on 7-of-17 from the floor, 10 rebounds, and five steals to lead Clemson. Elijah Thomas posted a double-double of his own with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Shelton Mitchell added 10 points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Brissett paced the Orange with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Boeheim chipped in with 11 points off the bench, while All-ACC Third Team performer, Tyus Battle, finished with 10 points and three rebounds.
With the loss, Syracuse finished the regular season with an overall record of 19-12 and 10-8 in the ACC. The Orange earned the six-seed and a first round bye in this week’s ACC Tournament when Louisville fell at Virginia on Saturday.
Player of the Week: Oshae Brissett
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Oshae Brissett. The versatile Canadian prospect has failed live up to the standard he set as a freshman averaging only 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season, compared to 14.9 points and 8.8 boards a year ago. However, he is still an important piece to the puzzle for the Orange. Brissett’s efficiency has always been a question mark, but his shooting percentage has jumped from 35.4-percent last season to 39.1-percent this year. His free throw percentage and three-point percentage have both taken a hit this season though. He went from being a reliable 78.7-percent free throw shooter as a freshman to shooting just 66.7-percent from the charity stripe in his sophomore campaign. Brissett set his sights on possibly entering the NBA Draft this year, but a major strike against him will be that he has shot just 26.5-percent from three-point range, down from 33.1-percent a season ago. If he can buck these trends, as he did against Clemson when he shot 5-of-5 from the line and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, the Orange will be poised to make noise in the postseason once again.
Up Next: The ACC Tournament vs. #11 Boston College/#14 Pittsburgh
Sixth-seeded Syracuse will take on either the 11-seed Boston College or the 14-seed Pittsburgh in the Second Round of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday night at 9:30pm. The Orange swept the season series from both the Eagles and the Panthers. Syracuse beat Boston College 77-71 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on January 30th and 67-56 in the Carrier Dome on February 9th. The Orange defeated Pittsburgh 74-63 at home on January 19th and 65-56 at the Peterson Events Center on February 2nd. The Eagles finished the regular season 14-16 overall, 5-13 in the ACC, while the Panthers are 13-18 overall and 3-15 in ACC play. Boston College is led by Ky Bowman who is averaging 19.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and four assists per game, while Xavier Johnson leads Pittsburgh as he is averaging 15.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per contest.
If Syracuse were to win their second round game, they would take on third-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9:30pm.
Syracuse Splits with Wake Forest and Virginia—Regular Season Finale Ahead
After losing back-to-back games for the first time in ACC play, Syracuse looked to get back on track when they took on Wake Forest and #2 Virginia this week.
The Orange traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Saturday to square off against Wake Forest. Syracuse used a 14-4 run, capped off by a jumper by Tyus Battle, to take a 20-11 lead with 12:02 left in the first half. The Orange built their largest advantage of the opening stanza, 34-20, when Marek Dolezaj converted a layup off an assist from Frank Howard with 5:09 remaining in the opening stanza. The Demon Deacons rattled off a 10-4 spurt to pull within eight, 38-30, at the break. Wake Forest got the closest they would in the final twenty minutes when Sharone Wright Jr. dropped in a layup to make it 40-35 Syracuse with 19:14 to go. The Demon Deacons would get no closer the rest of the way. Elijah Hughes gave Syracuse a 60-37 lead when he capped off the decisive 20-2 run with a layup assisted by Howard with 11:17 to play. The Orange coasted to a 79-54 victory over Wake Forest.
Syracuse shot 54.4-percent from the field and held the Demon Deacons to just 32.7-percent shooting. The Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone forced Wake Forest into 23 turnovers, which led to Syracuse outscoring the Demon Deacons 27-15 in points off turnovers.
Wake Forest was led by Chaundee Brown who scored 14 points, on 5-of-11 shooting, and grabbed six rebounds. Brown also dished out two assists and came away with two steals. Isaiah Mucius came off the bench and finished with 10 points and three rebounds in the losing effort.
Battle paced the Orange with 21 points, on 9-of-13 from the floor, three rebounds, and five steals. Hughes added 18 points, on 8-of-12 from the field, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Syracuse returned to the Carrier Dome on Monday night to celebrate Senior Night in their final regular season home game against #2 Virginia. Seniors Frank Howard and Paschal Chukwu, along with walk-on seniors Adrian Autry, Antonio Balandi, and Ky Feldman, were honored before the game. Chukwu may be granted a medical hardship waiver as a result of the eye surgery which ended his sophomore season prematurely. If approved, he may return to the team next season.
The Orange entered halftime with a 34-32 advantage over the Cavaliers as Howard drained a triple with 42 seconds left in the opening stanza. With Syracuse clinging to a 43-42 lead following a three-pointer by Battle with 15:09 left on the clock, De’Andre Hunter drilled a trey on the ensuing possession to spark an 11-0 run for Virginia. Kyle Guy gave the Cavaliers a double-digit lead, 53-43, when he knocked down a three of his own at the 10:29 mark. Buddy Boeheim pulled the Orange within seven, 53-46, with 9:45 remaining in the game, but that was the closest Syracuse would get the rest of the way. Virginia outscored the Orange 26-7 down the stretch and claimed a 79-53 win that sent most of the 29,052 in attendance packing before the final buzzer.
The Cavaliers shot 54.9-percent from the floor, including a blistering 72-percent from beyond the arc. The Dome Effect did nothing to stymie Virginia, as the Cavaliers connected on a school record 18 threes on just 25 attempts. Syracuse shot a dreadful 33.3-percent from the floor and converted ten fewer tries from distance than Virginia did as they connected on just 8-of-25 of their attempts from three-point range.
Virginia’s “Big Three” of Guy, Hunter, and Ty Jerome, combined for 78.5-percent of the team’s scoring. Guy led the Cavaliers with 25 points, on 8-of-10 from deep, seven rebounds, and two assists. Hunter contributed with 21 points, on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Jerome posted a double-double with 16 points and 14 assists. Jerome also corralled three rebounds and came away with three steals.
The Orange were led by Battle, Hughes, and Boeheim who chipped in with 11 points apiece. Battle collected five rebounds, while Hughes grabbed three steals.
For the third time in as many tries, Syracuse lost a game against a top-five team in which they led at halftime. The Orange will need to play for an entire 40-minutes if they want to make another deep run in March.
With the loss, Syracuse fell to 19-11 overall and 10-7 in the ACC. The Orange are tied for sixth in the league, but hold the tiebreaker over Louisville for the #6 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament.
Player of the Week: Elijah Hughes
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Elijah Hughes. Hughes averaged 14.5 points, on 61.1-percent from the field, and four rebounds per game this week. The East Carolina transfer’s efficiency and aggressiveness will be a key if the Orange hope to be a factor in the postseason.
Up Next: Clemson
Syracuse will look to close out the regular season on a high note when they travel to South Carolina to battle with Clemson on Saturday. Tip-off is set for noon and the game can be seen on CBS. The Tigers are 17-12, 7-9 in the ACC and are coming off a heartbreaking 81-79 loss to North Carolina. Clemson travels to Notre Dame on Wednesday before returning home to host the Orange in their regular season finale. Syracuse hopes to sweep the season series from the Tigers as the Orange defeated Clemson 61-53 at the Carrier Dome on January 9th. The Tigers are led by Marcquise Reed who is averaging 19.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and three assists per contest.
After a week off following a loss to North Carolina State on the road, Syracuse opened a stretch of four of five games against ranked opponents.
The Orange tipped-off that gauntlet against #18 Louisville. Syracuse used a 21-5 run, capped off by a layup by Oshae Brissett, with 4:04 remaining in the first half to take a 26-13 lead. The Orange entered the break with a 35-23 advantage. Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone continued to befuddle the Cardinals in the second stanza as the Orange pulled away to earn a 69-49 victory—their third over a ranked opponent this season.
Syracuse held Louisville to just 25.9-percent from the floor and forced the Cardinals into 13 turnovers. The Orange shot at a 38.6-percent clip, including 11-of-30 (46.2-percent) from beyond the arc.
Jordan Nwora led Louisville with 11 points and six rebounds.
Elijah Hughes stuffed the stat sheet for the Orange. The East Carolina transfer tallied 18 points, pulled down six rebounds, blocked two shots, and came away with two steals. Brissett added 16 points, on 7-of-15 shooting, and eight rebounds. Buddy Boeheim came off the bench and scored 14 points, on 5-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-9 from three point range, and four rebounds. Tyus Battle finished with 11 points, four rebounds, and seven assists.
After the big win over Louisville, tragedy struck the Syracuse University community when head coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a pedestrian, 51 year-old Jorge Jimenez, on I-690 in Syracuse on his way home from the game. Boeheim was not charged, but has since stated that the events of that night will follow him for the rest of his life and will not get better with time.
Syracuse University Athletic Director, John Wildhack, insisted that Boeheim coach against Duke. Due to the tragic events, ESPN pulled their GameDay crew from covering the matchup between the Blue Devils and the Orange.
On Saturday evening, Syracuse hosted Duke in front of a record crowd of 35,642 fans inside the Dome—the largest on campus crowd for a college basketball game ever. It was an emotional scene as Boeheim emerged from the tunnel and was greeted by the support of the Orange faithful and embraced longtime friend Coach K at center court.
The game would go on, however, and Syracuse took a 34-29 lead into halftime. The top-ranked Blue Devils bounced back in the final twenty minutes and used a 7-0 spurt, capitalized by a dunk by RJ Barrett with 4:49 left, to take a 65-56 advantage that they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Duke exited the Dome with a 75-65 win.
The Blue Devils shot 44.1-percent from the field and held Syracuse to just a 34.3-percent. Duke outrebounded the Orange 44-40.
The Blue Devils, who were without the services of likely #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, Zion Williamson, were paced by Barrett who poured in 30 points, on 14-of-20 from the floor, five rebounds, and three assists. Alex O’Connell netted 20 points, on 6-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-8 from distance, and five rebounds. Tre Jones, who was injured in the first half of the Syracuse’s win over Duke on January 14th, contributed with 11 points, three rebounds, and four assists.
Battle led Syracuse with 16 points and three rebounds. Hughes added 12 points and seven rebounds. Frank Howard and Marek Dolezaj impacted the game in many different ways. Howard finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals, while Dolezaj came off the bench and added 10 points, on 5-of-8 from the field, five rebounds, and three steals.
The Orange traveled to Chapel Hill to take on #5 North Carolina in an attempt to avoid losing back-to-back games in ACC play for the first time in the 2018-19 campaign. Syracuse raced out to an early 15-6 lead, but he Tar Heels bounced back to cut the Orange’s advantage to just one, 15-14, when Cameron Johnson drained a triple with 15:56 to go in the opening stanza. Syracuse took an eight point lead, 44-36, on a trey by Hughes with 2:13 to play in the first half. The Orange took a 46-43 advantage into halftime. Following intermission, North Carolina ripped off a 15-3 run, capped off by a dunk by Garrison Brooks, to take a 58-43 lead with 15:15 remaining. Syracuse refused to go away. The Orange tied the game at 63 on a dunk by Battle with 11:16 left. Syracuse failed to take the lead the rest of the way and the Tar Heels rolled to a 93-85 win.
The Orange shot 48.3-percent from the floor and connected on 14 of their 31 attempts from three-point land. Syracuse held North Carolina to 40.3-percent from the field and 9-of-29 from three. The difference in the game was the charity stripe. The referees were calling the game close, but the calls were especially in the favor of the Tar Heels in the first half. North Carolina shot 34-of-37 from the free throw line, while the Orange converted just 13 of their 23 attempts from the line. The Tar Heels also outrebounded Syracuse 46-25.
Coby White scored a game-high 34 points, on 9-of-14 shooting, to lead North Carolina. The freshman point guard was also 6-of-11 from deep and a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Johnson tallied 16 points and corralled seven rebounds, while Nassir Little came off the bench and knocked in 11 points and pulled down six boards.
Battle posted a team-high 29 points, on 7-of-17 from the field, five rebounds, and five assists. Hughes stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, on 5-of-9 from three, three rebounds, two assists, and two blocks. Howard dropped in 11 points and dished out seven assists, while Brissett poured in 10 points and grabbed three rebounds.
Syracuse is now 18-10 overall and sit in sixth place in the ACC with a league record of 9-6. Coming off two losses in which they led at the half against top five teams, the Orange cannot afford to look past their game at Wake Forest on Saturday before they take on another top five opponent, #2 Virginia, on Monday.
Player of the Week: Tyus Battle
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Tyus Battle. Battle averaged 18.7 points, four rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. The Orange have been at their best this season when Battle has run the point and been aggressive. When he gets into the paint he can look for his own shot or kick out to an open shooter. As the calendar turns to March, Battle will need to be aggressive and look to get others involved. Last year, the Edison, New Jersey native was a key contributor to Syracuse’s run to the Sweet Sixteen and he will need to be even better if the Orange want to position themselves for another deep run.
Up Next: Wake Forest and Virginia
Syracuse will continue their road trip throughout North Carolina, when they take on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Tip-off is set for noon. The Demon Deacons are 11-16 on the season, 4-11 in the ACC, and are coming off a 76-75 win over Miami on Tuesday. Wake Forest is led by Brandon Childress who is averaging 15 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.
The Orange will return home to face #2 Virginia on ESPN’s “Big Monday.” Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Cavaliers sit tied for first in the ACC with North Carolina and are 25-2 overall (with their only two losses coming to Duke), 13-2 in conference, and are coming off an 81-51 win over Georgia Tech Wednesday night. Virginia will host Pittsburgh on Saturday before heading north to square off against Syracuse. The Cavaliers are led by De’Andre Hunter who is averaging 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and two assists per contest.
Syracuse suffered their second loss in three games when they lost at North Carolina State last Wednesday night.
The Orange fell behind by as many as 12, 28-16, in the first stanza, but Syracuse trimmed their halftime deficit to just three, 30-27, at the break. Frank Howard connected on a three-pointer to pull Syracuse within one, 35-34, with 18:04 remaining, but the Orange would not get any closer the rest of the way. The Wolfpack ripped off a 16-3 run, capped off by a dunk by DJ Funderbunk, to put the game away for good. North Carolina State went on to win by a score of 73-58.
The Wolfpack shot 49-percent from the field and held the Syracuse to a mere 35-percent from the floor to earn the win. North Carolina State dominated the Orange on the boards, winning the battle on the glass 42-31.
Braxton Beverly led the Wolfpack with 21 points. Torin Dorn posted a double-double with 16 points, on 7-of-14 shooting, and 12 rebounds. Dorn also dished out three assists and came away with two steals. Funderbunk came off the bench and scored 12 points.
Howard led the Orange with 21 points on 8-of-16 from the field. Marek Dolezaj came off the bench and tallied 10 points, pulled down five boards, and grabbed three steals.
With the loss, Syracuse fell to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the ACC.
Player of the Week: Frank Howard
The one bright spot from the horrific loss at North Carolina State was the performance of Frank Howard. The 21 points he scored were his season high. The more puzzling result was that none of his teammates stepped up to support him. Syracuse needs to have all their players show up down the stretch if they want to stay in the top half of the conference and not have to sweat it out on Selection Sunday.
Up Next: Louisville and Duke
Syracuse begins an arduous stretch of games against three consecutive ranked opponents when they take on #18 Louisville in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7pm. The Cardinals are 18-8 overall and 9-4 in the league in Chris Mack’s first year at the helm. Louisville is coming off a narrow 56-55 win over Clemson on Saturday. The Cardinals are led by Jordan Nwora who is averaging 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
The Orange will host #1 Duke on Saturday evening. ESPN’s College GameDay will be inside the “Loud House” for the rematch between the two schools. Syracuse won the first meeting, 95-91 in overtime, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 14th. The Blue Devils have not lost since falling to the Orange and are back at full strength. Duke is 23-2 on the season, 11-1 in conference, and is coming off a 94-78 win over North Carolina State on Saturday. The Blue Devils will take on arch rival North Carolina on Wednesday before traveling north to battle Syracuse. Duke’s star freshman have led them to take back the number one ranking. The Blue Devils are led by RJ Barrett who is averaging 22.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4 assists per contest. Likely #1 NBA Draft pick Zion Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Cam Reddish missed the first game against the Orange with flu-like symptoms, while Tre Jones exited the contest just over five minutes into the game after colliding with Howard as the two were diving for a loose ball. Syracuse will need to be ready for both players to see meaningful minutes in the rematch. Reddish is averaging 13.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, while Jones is Duke’s quarterback averaging 8.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per contest.
The Orange have quite the tests on their schedule this week, but if they are up to the task, they will bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.
Syracuse rebounded from Tuesday night’s blowout loss to #22 Florida State with a 67-56 win over the Boston College Eagles in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
With Syracuse trailing 17-16 after three free throws by Boston College’s Jordan Chatman, the game changed when Buddy Boeheim entered the contest for the Orange. Boeheim connected on three triples and a pair of free throws to help Syracuse take a 31-24 lead into the break. The Orange pulled away early in the second half and opened up a 60-40 advantage on a dunk by Tyus Battle. The Eagles would not go away easily. Boston College used a 14-0 run to pull within six, 60-54, when Ky Bowman nailed a trey with 3:54 left. Syracuse closed the game with a 7-2 spurt to hang on for a 67-56 victory.
The Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone perplexed the Eagles all afternoon. Syracuse held Boston College to just 33.3-percent shooting and forced the Eagles into 18 turnovers. The 24 points Boston College scored in the first half was their lowest scoring output in a 20 minute period all season. The Orange shot the ball at a 41.5-percent clip and took advantage of the Eagles’ carelessness with the basketball, outscoring the visitors 25-5 in points off turnovers.
Bowman led Boston College with 21 points, on 7-of-12 from the field, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The junior guard came off the bench due to a violation of a minor team rule. Chatman added 12 points, while Nik Popovic finished with 10 points and five boards in the loss.
Syracuse was paced by Battle who tallied 21 points, on an efficient 8-of-13 from the field, corralled four rebounds, and came away with three steals. Boeheim scored a career-high 16 points and grabbed three steals, while Oshae Brissett recorded his third consecutive double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, the Orange improved to 17-7 overall and 8-3 in ACC play. Syracuse sits in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Louisville who is ranked #16 in the nation.
Player of the Week: Buddy Boeheim
This week’s player of the week for Syracuse is Buddy Boeheim. “Daddy’s Boy,” as Pittsburgh students chanted last Saturday, is shooting 52.9-percent from three in the Orange’s last eight games. Boeheim’s prowess continued from beyond the arc will be key for Syracuse down the stretch to open driving lanes for Battle and Brissett.
Up Next: North Carolina State
Prior to their bye in ACC play this weekend, the Orange will travel to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 8pm. The Wolfpack’s record is 17-7, 5-6 in league play. North Carolina State is coming off a 79-76 win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Torin Dorn leads the Wolfpack in scoring, averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
The Syracuse Orange are just over halfway through the ACC portion of the schedule and hold a 16-7 overall mark and a 7-3 record in conference play. There is still a long way to go in the regular season, but as of right now Syracuse is sitting on the right side of the bubble—a feat that seemed unlikely following four losses in the non-conference season. Let’s take a look at the last few games and the road ahead in the ACC.
The Orange entered their contest with Miami on a two game win streak having beaten then #1 Duke on the road and former Big East rival Pittsburgh at home. The Hurricanes kept it close in the first half and Syracuse entered the locker room with a 32-29 lead. Clinging to a three point lead, 42-39, with 15:09 remaining, the Orange set off on a 19-5 run to take control for good. Syracuse pulled away to a 73-53 win at home.
The Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone baffled Miami. The Hurricanes shot just 33.9-percent and turned the ball over 13 times. On the other hand, Syracuse shot it at a 49.1-percent clip, including 46.7-percent from beyond the arc.
DJ Vasiljevic led Miami with 11 points and eight rebounds in the losing effort.
Elijah Hughes paced the Orange with 22 points, on 8-of-13 shooting, three rebounds, three blocks, and three steals. Buddy Boeheim chipped in with 12 points and three boards off the bench, while Tyus Battle added 10 points, six rebounds, and nine assists.
Syracuse put their three game win streak on the line when they traveled to Blacksburg to take on the 10th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. Virginia Tech raced out to a 43-24 halftime advantage. The Orange climbed to within eight, 43-35, on a free throw by Battle. Syracuse would get no closer the rest of the way and the Hokies would go on to win by a margin of 78-56.
Virginia Tech was shot over the zone by shooting 52.1-percent from the field and 46.7-percent from three-point land. The Hokies held the Orange to 36.4-percent from the floor.
Justin Robinson led Virginia Tech with 35 points, on 9-of-13 shooting from deep, three rebounds, and eight assists. Ahmed Hill scored 16 points, on 6-of-10 from the field, and six boards in the victory.
Oshae Brissett led the way for Syracuse as the sophomore forward tallied 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Frank Howard and Battle poured in 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Orange looked to rebound from their loss at the Hokies with a win over the Boston College Eagles—Syracuse’s second game of a three game road trip. Trailing 15-6, the Orange used a 14-0 spurt to take a 20-15 lead with 9:48 left in the opening stanza on a jumper by Howard. Syracuse took a 42-35 lead into intermission. Boston College got within six on a layup by Ky Bowman with 2:04 to play. That was the closest the Eagles would get as the Orange hung on for a 77-71 victory.
Syracuse shot 55.8-percent from the floor and drilled 11 triples to come away with the win.
Bowman and Jordan Chatman scored 21 points each to pace Boston College. Bowman also dished out four assists. Jared Hamilton added 12 points, while Nik Popovich finished with 11 points and six rebounds for the Eagles.
Battle poured in 31 points, on 11-of-17 from the floor, collected four rebounds, and distributed six assists in the win. Boeheim came up with another solid performance off the bench with a career-high 13 points and three boards. Hughes knocked in 10 points and pulled down four rebounds to help earn the Orange earn the hard fought road win.
Syracuse squared off with Pittsburgh for the second time this season in hopes of completing their three game road trip with a record of 2-1. The Orange took as much as a 16-point lead in the first twenty minutes and a 13-point lead, 35-22, into the half. The Panthers cut Syracuse’s lead to five, 46-41, when Jared Wilson-Frame nailed a three-pointer with 10:09 to go. The Orange responded with a 9-0 run to take a 55-41 advantage that they would not relinquish. Syracuse went on to win 65-56.
Syracuse’s defense stymied Pittsburgh’s attack. The Orange held the Panthers to 31.6-percent shooting, while Syracuse shot it at a 41.5-percent clip.
Terrell Brown led Pittsburgh with 16 points, on 8-of-13 from the field, and six rebounds. Xavier Johnson scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out 6 assists, while Wilson-Frame tallied 12 points and came down with 10 rebounds.
Brissett posted a double-double with 18 points, on 6-of-9 from the floor, and 12 rebounds. Howard dropped in 15 points and pulled down three boards. Paschal Chukwu finished with 10 points and eight rebounds to help the Orange to victory.
Florida State made a trip to the Carrier Dome Thursday night as Syracuse eyed another three game win streak and their second win over a ranked conference opponent. The 22nd ranked Seminoles raced out to a 36-14 lead. The Orange used a 17-3 spurt to end the first half to pull with eight, 39-31, at the break. Syracuse cut Florida State’s lead to one, 46-45, but failed to get over the hump and take the lead. The Seminoles pulled away over the final nine minutes of the contest to earn an 80-62 win at the Dome.
Having fallen behind by 22 points so early in the game, the Orange pressed throughout, but were noticeably gassed down the stretch. Florida State shot a blistering 54.5-percent from the field, including 50-percent from distance. Syracuse’s comeback was stopped short mainly due to their inefficient from behind the three point line where the Orange connected on just 5-of-20 of their attempts.
Terance Mann stuffed the stat sheet for the Seminoles with 22 points, nine, rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Mfiondu Kabengele scored 18 points, pulled down eight rebounds, and blocked two shots off the bench. Phil Cofer and MJ Walker tallied 11 points each. Cofer ripped down three boards and distributed three assists as well.
Battle paced Syracuse with 23 points on 8-of-15 from the floor. Hughes added 17 points. Brissett posted his second consecutive double-double with 16 points and 12 boards.
Syracuse is quite the team when it gets contributions throughout the rotation, but in their most recent losses, Howard and Chukwu have been non-existent. For example, Howard and Chukwu played major roles in wins at Duke and Pittsburgh, but combined for zero points in the blowout loss at home to Florida State. Battle and Hughes have played well, but the Orange will certainly need their seniors to step up down the stretch in ACC play if they plan on being on the right side of the bubble and making another deep run in the “Big Dance.”
Player of the Week: Oshae Brissett
With the key role the Elijah Hughes has played in support of Tyus Battle in the 2018-19 campaign, Brissett has seen his numbers take a hit from his freshman to his sophomore season. Make no mistake, Brissett is still a key cog in the Orange machine. The Canadian product is averaging 13.7 points, on 40.5 shooting, and 7.8 rebounds per game this season and has recorded double-doubles in his last two games. He may need to continue to play like that if Howard and Chukwu are unable to produce down the stretch for Syracuse to have a chance a making a deep postseason run.
Up Next: Boston College and the Road Ahead
The Orange will host Boston College in the second meeting between the two schools this season. Tip-off inside the Carrier Dome is set for 2pm. The Eagles are 11-10 overall, 2-7 in league play and are coming off an 80-55 loss at Duke Tuesday night. Ky Bowman is one of the best players in the conference and has had stellar performances against Syracuse in the past. Bowman leads Boston College scoring 20.3 points, grabbing 7.8 rebounds, and dishing out 3.7 assists per contest.
After hosting Boston College, the Orange will play four of their last seven games against ranked opponents (home against Louisville, Duke, Virginia, and at North Carolina), while also traveling to North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Clemson. Syracuse has positioned themselves well in the ACC standings as of right now, but there are tests still left to pass if the Orange prefer not having to sweat it out on Selection Sunday yet again.
Syracuse Follows Up Win over Top-Ranked Duke with Triumph over Pitt
Syracuse avoided a letdown with a win over Pittsburgh at home on Saturday afternoon.
The Orange gained a 28-16 lead on a jumper by Tyus Battle with 2:37 remaining in the first half. The Panthers responded with a 9-0 spurt to close the halftime margin to 28-25 in favor of Syracuse. The Orange pulled away as they opened the second stanza with a 22-6 run capped off with a dunk by Battle with 9:46 left to take a 50-31 lead. Syracuse hung on to score a 74-63 victory over their former Big East rival.
The Orange shot 46.3-percent from the field, 46.2-percent from three and held Pittsburgh 33.8-percent from the field and 31.4-percent from deep. Syracuse’s 2-3 zone perplexed the Panthers and forced them into 17 turnovers.
Jared Wilson-Frame led Pittsburgh with 19 points, on 7-of-15 shooting, and eight rebounds. Xavier Johnson chipped in with 17 points, on 6-of-11 from the field, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Battle paced the Orange with 22 points, on 9-of-17 from the floor, and three rebounds. Buddy Boeheim poured in a career-high 13 points on 4-of-5 from three-point land. Oshae Brissett added 11 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Frank Howard scored 10 points and dished out five assists. Paschal Chukwu tallied six points and pulled down 11 boards. Elijah Hughes dropped in eight points, while Marek Dolezaj stuffed the stat sheet with four points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Syracuse fans braved winter storm Harper and came out in a flurry as the 24,466 in attendance was the largest crowd in college basketball this season.
With the win, the Orange improved to 13-5 overall and tied for first in the ACC with a 4-1 record in conference play.
Player of the Week: Tyus Battle
Tyus Battle earned many accolades for his play this week, including NCAA Player of the Week, Naismith Player of the Week, and ACC Player of the Week. The junior guard averaged 27 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in wins over Duke and Pittsburgh. Battle now leads all active ACC players in scoring. If Syracuse plans to stay atop the ACC, Battle will need to continue to perform at an All-ACC level.
Up Next: Miami and Virginia Tech
Syracuse returns to action when they face Miami on Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 8pm. The Hurricanes are 9-8 on the season, 1-4 in league play, and are coming off an 85-76 loss to #13 North Carolina on Saturday. Miami is led by Chris Lykes who is averaging 18.1 points and 3.7 assists per game. Last year, the Orange won the lone meeting between the two schools, 62-55, in Coral Gables, Florida.
Syracuse travels to Blacksburg to square off against the tenth-ranked Virginia Tech Saturday night. Tip-off is set for 8pm. The Hokies are 15-2 overall, 4-1 in the ACC, tied with the Orange for first place, and are coming off an 103-82 loss to #11 North Carolina on Monday night. Virginia Tech is led by Nickeil Alexander-Walker who is averaging 18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per contest. Last season, Syracuse defeated the Hokies 68-56 in the only meeting between the two schools on New Year’s Eve.
A Wild Week for the Orange Culminates with Upset over Top-Ranked Duke
Wow! Syracuse battled through a wild week defeating Clemson at home, being blown out by a subpar Georgia Tech team in the Carrier Dome, and traveling to Durham, NC to topple the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils. Three games in six days is tough for any team, but the way the Orange weathered that storm was a script that no one could write.
Syracuse took on the Clemson Tigers on Wednesday night in their second ACC matchup of the 2018-19 campaign. The Orange jumped out to a 21-10 lead thanks to a 19-5 run capped off by a dunk by Oshae Brissett with 8:41 left in the opening stanza. Clemson shortened Syracuse’s advantage to eight, 30-22 at the half. The Orange grabbed control of the game as a triple by Elijah Hughes gave Syracuse a 51-36 edge with 9:13 remaining. The Tigers made it a six point game, 54-48, when Marcquise Reed nailed a trey with 4:46 to go, but the Orange hung on and secured four consecutive defensive stops to earn a 61-53 victory to improve to 2-0 in conference play.
Syracuse shot 41.7-percent from the field and held the Tigers to a 35.8-percent clip. The Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone perplexed Clemson all night as the Tigers committed 17 turnovers.
Reed led Clemson with 16 points, on 5-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, and three assists. Elijah Thomas chipped in with 13 points on, on 4-of-6 from the field, and seven boards.
Hughes paced Syracuse with 14 points and seven rebounds. Tyus Battle added 12 points, three boards, and three assists. Frank Howard tallied 12 points, on 4-of-8 from the floor, pulled down five rebounds, and dished out four assists. Marek Dolezaj stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, on 3-of-5 shooting, four boards, four helpers, two blocks, and two steals.
The Orange looked to remain undefeated in league play when they squared off with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday evening. Both teams struggled to score in the opening twenty minutes and Georgia Tech took a one point lead, 27-26 into the break. The Yellow Jackets blew the game wide open with a 24-7 spurt that ended with a layup by Jose Alvarado to build a 51-33 edge with 12:17 left in the game. Syracuse ran a full-court press for the final 14 minutes of the contest, but failed to get anything going offensively, which allowed Georgia Tech to pull away to a 73-59 win on the road.
The Orange had improved their shooting over the last few weeks until the Yellow Jackets’ zone stifled their offensive attack. Syracuse shot a dreadful 31.6-percent from the floor and an even more pitiful 21.2-percent from beyond the arc. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, shot the lights out—59.5-percent from the field and 50-percent from three-point land.
Alvarado led the Yellow Jackets with 19 points, on 5-of-6 from the field, and three rebounds. James Banks III poured in 16 points, on 6-of-10 from the floor, grabbed seven boards, blocked three shots, and came away with three steals. Curtis Haywood II dropped in 15 points, on 6-of-10 shooting, corralled four rebounds, and distributed seven helpers. Abdoulaye Gaeye finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 from the field.
Brissett scored a team-high 15 points, pulled in seven boards, and dished out three assists. Hughes recorded 12 points and three rebounds, while Battle contributed with 11 points.
After suffering a bad loss at home to Georgia Tech, the Orange were staring down a .500 in record in conference play as they were set to battle with #1 Duke on the road on Monday. In desperate need of a signature win, Syracuse needed a few bounces to fall their way and an improved shooting performance in order to pull off an unforeseen upset. The Blue Devils, and their four star freshman, were fresh off a last second win at Florida State two days earlier and came into tip-off favored by 17.
Cam Reddish, the third-ranked recruit in the Class of 2018 was out with flu-like symptoms, but Duke’s remaining star frosh raced out to an early 12-0 lead only three minutes into the contest. However, the tide was about to change. The Blue Devils’ freshman point guard, Tre Jones, separated his right shoulder when he collided with Howard as the two players were chasing after a loose ball five and a half minutes into the first half.
The Orange came all the way back to tie the game at 29 with 6:37 remaining in the opening stanza. Syracuse claimed their first lead of the game, 36-35, on a free throw by Paschal Chukwu with 4:49 to go before intermission. RJ Barrett, the top recruit in the Class of 2018, extended Duke’s lead with a jumper to 49-44 with 1:19 to go before the break. The Orange trimmed the Blue Devils’ halftime edge to one, 49-48, as Hughes made what could possibly be the shot of the year as his 75-foot heave at the buzzer was true.
Syracuse began the second half by taking the lead (50-49) on a layup by Brissett less than a minute in. Duke reclaimed their advantage, 52-50, on a layup by Marques Bolden with 18:49 left. The Blue Devils built an eight point edge, 67-59, on a layup by the second ranked recruit in the Class of 2018 and the leading candidate for National Player of the Year, Zion Williamson, with 13:41 to go. The Orange were not ready to go away easily. Syracuse reclaimed the lead, 81-80, with 3:10 left on a layup by Chukwu. Williamson had a chance to win it for Duke at the free throw line after a questionable foul was called on Chukwu. The diaper-dandy converted on only one-of-two attempts from the charity stripe and the game was tied at 85. Battle’s shot at the buzzer clanked off the back iron and the ACC rivals were headed to overtime for the second time since the Orange joined the conference in 2013-14.
Hughes controlled the opening tip in the extra session and raced down the court to give Syracuse and 87-85 advantage. Less than a minute into the overtime period, Alex O’Connell nailed one from deep to give the Blue Devils an 88-87 lead. On the ensuing possession, Battle hit a jumper to put the Orange ahead for good. Barrett’s three at the buzzer missed and Syracuse emerged with a 95-91 upset over #1 Duke in overtime.
With the win, the Orange improved to 12-5 on the season, 3-1 in ACC play, and Syracuse became the first school other than North Carolina to upset a top-ranked Duke team at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Orange shot 43.8-percent from the floor, including 44-percent from three, and held the Blue Devils to just 38.7-percent from the floor and a miserable 20.9-percent from behind the three-point line. Syracuse outrebounded Duke 51-48.
Williamson led the Blue Devils with a career-high 35 points, on 12-of-20 shooting, and 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Williamson also blocked four shots. Barrett was an assist shy of a triple-double with 23 points, on 8-of-30 from the field, 16 rebounds, and nine assists. Bolden recorded a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks off the bench, while O’Connell came off the pine to hang 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists on the Orange in the losing effort.
Battle paced Syracuse with 32 points, on 12-of-28 from the floor, four rebounds, and four assists. Hughes added 20 points, on 7-of-15 shooting, and five boards. Howard scored 16 points in the second half, on 7-of-13 from the field, corralled six rebounds, and dished out five assists. Brissett finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Chukwu came off the bench and recorded a double-double featuring 10 points, a career-high 18 rebounds, and three blocks.
Coach Boeheim commented on his team’s win over Duke in his postgame press conference. “When (Chukwu) plays like that,” Boeheim said, “we’re a different team.”
Coach K commented on the result in his postgame press conference. “This was a very difficult night for our basketball program,” K said. “We’ll figure out ways of handling it.”
Player of the Week: Paschal Chukwu
From Battle’s first half dominance against Duke and Hughes’ continued steady play, this week’s player of the week for Syracuse was Paschal Chukwu. After not playing against Clemson, and playing just 15 minutes against Georgia Tech, Chukwu played the game of his life in helping the Orange earn a signature win at #1 Duke. He was a force inside against Williamson and stepped up to hit key free throws and collected rebounds down the stretch to get defensive stops when his team needed it most. If Chukwu can build on Monday night’s performance and be a legitimate threat on the interior, Syracuse will be able to remain atop the ACC standings.
Up Next: Pittsburgh
The Orange return home to face Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is set for 2pm. After being the laughing stock of the ACC a year ago, first-year head coach Jeff Capel has rejuvenated the program. The Panthers are 12-5 overall, 2-2 in conference, and are coming off a 75-62 win against #11 Florida State on Monday night. Pitt is led by Xavier Johnson who is averaging 17.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per contest. Last season, Syracuse swept the season series from the Panthers.