With the way Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is talking, you would think that undefeated Syracuse was actually winless.
Scoop Jardine scored 23 points and Rick Jackson added 16 as No. 8 Syracuse held off North Carolina State for a 65-59 win.
“You can’t shoot 2-for-16 from three if you’re going to win games,” Boeheim said. “You don’t win games shooting 30 percent from the field, 12 percent from the field. You just can’t win.”
Although Syracuse (8-0) has won all of its games this season, it has struggled to find consistency on offense. The Orange shot just 38 percent from the field, and went 2-for-16 from 3-point range.
“We’re not locating shooters and hitting threes,” Jardine said. “We need to put two halves together.”
Kris Joseph, who came in averaging 18.8 points over his past four games, was a non factor, scoring just eight points on 3-for-12 shooting, and did not connect on any of his four attempts from 3-point range.
“Kris had some opportunities tonight but he is trying too hard,” Boeheim said. “It looks like he is trying to audition for something. He is missing shots and hanging his head. It is better to just keep playing.”
The Wolfpack held an early six point second half lead thanks to timely outside shooting from forward Scott Wood, who led North Carolina State with 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting from downtown.
But Syracuse extended its zone to clamp down on the perimeter, and held the Wolfpack without a basket in the final seven minutes. The Orange also took care of the basketball, committing just five turnovers and forced 19.
“It just came down to defense,” Jackson said. “When it came down at the end, they kept looking for one guy to make a three, and that killed them.”
Things didn’t start that way for the Orange as Syracuse jumped out to an early 14-8 lead thanks to a combined nine points from big men Fab Melo and Jackson. The lead would balloon to 31-18 after a 10-3 spurt.
But Wood hit two 3-pointers that keyed a 12-1 run that pulled the Wolfpack back within 32-30. It would remain close the rest of the way.
North Carolina State roared out of halftime to take a 51-45 lead with 12:17 left. Syracuse employed a full court press that forced several of the Wolfpack’s 19 turnovers.
The last of Wood’s five turnovers resulted in Syracuse taking a 62-59 lead with 2:08 remaining.
The Orange will next face No. 6 Michigan State on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
“At least we’ve proven we can in a close game at this stage,” Boeheim said. “But we have two days of practice and then go play one of the top three or four teams in the country. Hopefully we’ll play better against Michigan State.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for SuJuiceOnline.com.