Tuesday night, after #22 Syracuse dug themselves almost all the way out of a first half hole, they promptly dug themselves into an even bigger second half hole, losing at #17 Wisconsin in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, 77-60. The Badgers (6-2) won on the strength of their patient, often surgical offense, which found holes in the 2-3 zone of the Orange (4-2) over and over. Wisconsin had assists on 21 of their 29 field goals, shooting just a hair under 50 percent from the field on the night.
In addition to a frequently shaky defensive effort, SU found the going rough on offense, as well. The Orange rallied in the first half to get within four points at the break on some strong offense in the last ten minutes of the session, but shot 32.1 percent from the field after halftime, including a woeful 1-of-10 on three-pointers. For good measure, Syracuse was also pounded on the glass in the second half, getting beaten on the glass 25-9.
After the two teams played a close opening four minutes, the SU offense went into the cooler for an equal amount of time, allowing Wisconsin to put together an 11-2 run to take a double-digit lead. DaJuan Coleman’s free throws were Syracuse’s only offense in that time, as they missed four shots and committed a pair of turnovers while falling behind, 21-10.
Tyler Lydon scored twice to try to right the ship for the Orange, but the Badgers continued humming on offense, eventually doubling up the visitors, 28-14.
Andrew White III was the best player over the last ten minutes of the opening half, hitting four threes to get SU rolling. His first two long-range bombs came around a pair of Taurean Thompson foul shots for an 8-1 Syracuse run that halved the Badger lead.
After Wisconsin ballooned their lead back out to a dozen points, the Orange hung another run, this one a 10-2 advantage, to get back into the game. White III knocked in another three to get SU back in the scorebook, then the Orange chased a Badger three with seven straight points.
Frank Howard finished a drive with a nice scoop to start the flurry, then White III swished a three from the left wing. Coleman burrowed inside and got a friendly roll for another bucket, drawing Syracuse within 36-32 with three minutes left in the opening half.
From there, the two teams played evenly to the half with Wisconsin taking a 43-39 lead to the locker room.
The Badgers got a triple to start the second half and Coleman got two of those points back for the Orange on a lay-up. The roof then fell in on SU as the hosts rattled off a dozen straight points for a 58-41 lead less than six minutes into the half.
The Orange missed eight straight shots in that span, a streak broken by a half dozen points of their own. Thompson and John Gillon each hit a jumper for SU, then the latter added a lay-up to make it 58-47.
Wisconsin responded by scoring seven of the game’s next nine points to take a 16-point lead just past the midpoint of the half. Syracuse never got within 13 points over the rest of the game.
Andrew White III paced the Orange with 14 points, all of which came in the first half. DaJuan Coleman had a season-high dozen points in the game. John Gillon had ten points while Tyler Lydon chipped in with nine.
Ethan Happ paced the Badgers with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and 13 rebounds, while Bronson Koenig hit 6-of-9 from deep for most of his 20 points. Forward Nigel Hayes finished one point shy of a triple-double for Wisconsin, grabbing 11 boards and handing out ten assists.
SU will try to regroup for a few days before hosting North Florida on Saturday. The Ospreys (3-5), who are led by Dallas Moore’s 19.1 points per game, will take on Florida on Thursday before coming up to the Carrier Dome. Tip-off is set for 4:00pm Eastern and ESPN3.com will show the action online.