A quick take on Syracuse’s 68-65 loss to Michigan in the Big 10/ACC Challenge on Tuesday night:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange committed 19 turnovers, the last two of which were the most excruciating in recent memory. Twice in the final 20 seconds, Michigan missed the front end of 1-and-1s up just one point, and twice, Syracuse committed costly turnovers. The first time, Chris McCullough rebounded a miss and tried outletting to Kaleb Joseph, who mishandled the ball out of bounds. On the second miss, Kaleb Joseph raced to the front court, dribbled down the right baseline and lost the ball again. After Caris LeVert’s free throws put Michigan up three, Joseph missed an off-balanced 3-pointer with two seconds left. The loss spoiled a valiant comeback from the Orange, who trailed 58-48 with seven minutes left. SU revived itself in the most unlikely of ways — with outside shooting. Trevor Cooney buried a pair of 3s, and Chris McCullough followed with a tip-in to pull the Orange to within two. A Rakeem Christmas layup with 1:00 left tied the game at 63, setting up the dramatic final minute.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse’s youth showed in the final :30 of the game, with turnovers that can only be attributed to inexperience. Joseph was the main culprit, as he didn’t look the ball into his hands on the first turnover, and looked out of control on the second. Joseph’s sloppiness was part of an overall trend for the Orange on the night, with SU committing 19 turnovers. Still, there were encouraging signs, including, *gasp*, decent outside shooting from Syracuse. Joseph made a pair of early 3-pointers, and Cooney had his best shooting performance of the season, hitting 4 for 9 from distance. SU shot a respectable 35 percent from downtown and 50 percent from the field. The Orange also has to be credited with erasing a 10-point deficit late in the second half on the road.
HERO: With 34 seconds left and the game tied at 63, Michigan guard Spike Albrecht put Michigan ahead for good, hitting a key 3-pointer from NBA range. He finished with 11 points and nine assists. Christmas dominated inside in the first half, and finished with 15 points and six rebounds, but the senior center still needs to recognize the double team earlier. Christmas committed six turnovers when the Wolverines made the adjustment of double, and at times, triple-teaming him.
ZERO: Derrick Walton Jr. finished 1-7, and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 18 seconds to give the Orange a shot at winning. Fortunately, he was bailed out by Joseph, who had likely the worst final minute of his young basketball career. SU still needs to get more from the three “sons” — Tyler Roberson, BJ Johnson and Ron Patterson. The trio was a complete non-factor, combining for five points (Roberson had all five).
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange host former conference opponent St. John’s on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 5:15 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.