A quick take on Syracuse’s 77-60 defeat against Wisconsin Tuesday evening, part of the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge series at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc.:
WHAT HAPPENED: For the second straight year Wisconsin (6-2) beat Syracuse (4-2) in the “Challenge” handing SU its second straight defeat. After seeing their 14 point first half lead cut to four at halftime, the Badgers came out on fire to begin the second half with an 13-2 run, coinciding with the Orange going cold, and there was not going to be an Orange second half run on this night against a veteran Badger team playing in front of the home crowd.
ANALYSIS: Wisconsin, with its four senior starters, knows how to move the ball against a zone defense, and time and again the Badgers were either going inside to big man Ethan Happ (double-double), or swinging it back out to guard Bronson Koenig beyond the arc. Koenig drilled six three pointers, one shy of the school mark, and finished with 20 points, and Nigel Hayes dished out 10 assists and finished one point away from a triple-double on a missed foul shot. Once ‘Cuse guard Andrew White III cooled down after a hot first half and going scoreless the rest of the way, no one else picked up the slack offensively, although Dajuan Coleman was productive underneath with 12 points.
HERO: Jim Boeheim and the Orange have probably seen enough of Badgers sophomore center Happ. Following up on a dominating double-double in the Dome a year ago, Happ was aggressive offensively from the opening tip with another outstanding all around performance along the baseline finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
ZERO: The Orange were completely outplayed from the start of the second half after coming almost all the way back from a 14 point deficit, having no answer on defense and going cold on offense in the first true road game of the season. The loss will be a teaching opportunity for the coaching staff with the ongoing process of building chemistry with a newly built team.
WHAT’S NEXT: Following a two game road trip to Brooklyn and Madison, Syracuse returns home to face Atlantic Sun conference member North Florida (3-5) on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Ospreys, a one time NAIA program, made the initial leap to Div. I hoops in 2005, and before facing SU in the Dome, host No. 24/26 Florida Thursday evening. Game Time: 4:00 p.m. ET / TV: ACC Network Extra-ESPN3.