No. 22 Florida State held on to defeat Syracuse 80-62 at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. The final score does not illustrate how close this game actually was. SU fell behind by as many as 22 points in the first half, but rallied to pull within two points in the second before FSU put the game out of reach with a late 12-0 run.
Here are three things we learned from Tuesday:
Senior Stars Struggle
Both Pascal Chukwu and Frank Howard had forgettable games for Syracuse last night, combining for 32 minutes and zero points. Howard may have had his worst game of his Syracuse career, not only going scoreless but failing to get an assist while turning the ball over three times.
“Frank was not in the game mentally,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I don’t know what it was, but he was never there.”
Coming off a 15 point game against Pittsburgh, this performance is a cause for concern for Howard. At this stage in the year, it is a telling sign that your top two seniors are wildly inconsistent and on any given night, could no-show a very important game.
It’s no secret that Boeheim coached teams play with a short rotation. The Orange showed a lot of heart in this one but the numbers game caught up to them at the end as FSU pulled away.
“We got down 20,” Boeheim said. “[We] battled as hard as you can battle and then I think we ran out of gas a little at the end.”
Syracuse typically goes on a seven man rotation whereas the Seminoles have ten players who average 11 minutes or more per game. The silver lining to SU’s depth woes was the press defense appeared to work well for them.
“When you’re down twenty, you gotta go, you could lose by 40 but you gotta try, you gotta go after them and our press was good,” Boeheim said. “We got some turnovers, forced them to take some shots off balance and we got it. We wanted to keep pressing [. . .] It’s hard to press a team like that the whole game.”
Battle/Hughes/Brissett keeps Cuse in the Game
To end on a positive note: “The big three” on offense shined last night, keeping Syracuse in the game for the majority of it.
Oshae Brissett had another double-double last night scoring 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Seminoles. Nine of his 12 rebounds were in the first half which helped ignite the Orange to their comeback late in the first half.
Battle bounced back as well, after only having six points against Pittsburgh, he would finish Tuesday with a team-high 23 points, shooting 8 of 15.
Rounding out the three headed monster was Elijah Hughes who had 17 points going 4 for 9 from beyond the arc.
As long as these three are clicking on offense, they can keep Syracuse in just about any game. It can be a potent offense when they’re contributing for the entirety of the game.
“You’re going to have those games,” Boeheim said. “You just have to regroup.”