A quick take on Syracuse’s 61-53 win over Clemson in its ACC home opener:
WHAT HAPPENED: A Frank Howard jumper with 8:16 to go in the game gave Syracuse what seemed to be a commanding 53-38 lead. But Marcquise Reed went on a personal 7-0 spurt, part of a 10-1 run for Clemson that pulled the Tigers to within six points with 3:46 to go. But Reed missed a layup in transition and Oshae Brissett responded with a jumper on the other side of the floor to give the Orange a 58-50 lead. Reed was called for a flagrant foul on Frank Howard with just over a minute to go, and Howard hit both to put the Orange back up 10, which allowed SU to close out from there.
ANALYSIS: While the Orange has a ‘W’ in the column for this game, Syracuse could’ve sweat this out a lot less in the second half. Syracuse was up by as many as 15 with under 10 minutes to go but stagnated on offense, allowing the Tigers to make a late push. Still, there were plenty of encouraging signs across the board. The Orange to off to a quick start with Marek Dolezaj once again starting at center. Dolezaj started the game with just his fifth made 3-pointer of the season, an omen of good things to come. Syracuse jumped out to a double-digit lead early thanks to better ball movement, and ended up assisting on 12 of its 20 field goals. On defense, SU’s defense frustrated the Tigers, forcing 17 turnovers while holding them to 35 percent shooting from the field.
HERO: Dolezaj enjoyed one of his best games of the season, stuffing the stat sheet with 10 points, four assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Elijah Hughes led SU in scoring with 14 points and added seven rebounds, but also turned the ball over four times.
ZERO: Paschal Chukwu has not only lost his spot in starting lineup to Dolezaj, he’s also completely lost his spot in the rotation. The center has found a spot squarely in Jim Boeheim’s doghouse and didn’t get on the floor at all, but in his absence, the Syracuse offense has become far more fluid with Dolezaj, who is at least a threat on offense.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. TV: ESPN2.