Syracuse lost for just the second time this season, dropping a 75-71 decision in overtime. Here are some thoughts from the game.
Orange needs Southerland now more than ever
It’s been clear since the day he was ruled ineligible, but now it’s more evident than ever. The Orange needs Southerland back to provide and offensive spark. The offense has been one-dimensional and inconsistent without Southerland and has put pressure on other players to play more minutes than ever before. CJ Fair has played the entire game in his last three games. He’s been playing well but he just isn’t able to put up the numbers offensively that Southerland can. The toughest part of Southerland’s absence is that it forces Boeheim to play a three-guard lineup, with Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche and Trevor Cooney. Triche struggles playing the wing in the zone and it hurts the Orange rebounding, which was clear late in the game today.
Jerami Grant’s importance
The game completely changed when Grant fouled out. Last week, Boeheim called Grant a “live” player and he brought that “live” mentality into today’s game. He’s so active and athletic, making him a valuable player off the bench. If the Orange still has Grant late in the game, the outcome is entirely different. It wasn’t his 12 points that were so impressive; it was his FOUR offensive rebounds. Those were huge in a game where the Orange was outrebounded by 14 boards. He attacks the rim when a shot goes up and fights for rebounds unlike any other player on the team. When Grant fouled out, Villanova’s Mouphtaou Yarou was left uncontested on the glass and he swallowed up a big chunk of his 16 rebounds.
Shots just weren’t falling
This is the bright spot in an otherwise dark and frustrating game. Syracuse shot just 33% from the field and a lot of those shots were missed from short-distance, within a foot from the hoop. Three-pointers didn’t fall, layups didn’t fall, even Fair’s midrange jumper way off. But the Orange hung in there. I think that says a lot about the team. There aren’t many teams in the country that can have awful shooting nights and still contest. That’s a positive to take away from today.