Sputtering offense dooms Syracuse in loss to NC State

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at N.C. State
Feb 13, 2019; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Funderburk (0) is fouled by Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle (25) while shooting during the second half at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett, and Elijah Hughes may as well have just stayed in Syracuse for as well as they played Wednesday night. The top three scorers for the Orange, who came into the game averaging 45.5 points per game combined on the season, shot 6-of-28 from the field to tally 15 points.

As a result, SU shot just 35 percent on the night and North Carolina State rolled in the second half for a 73-58 home win. Until the Orange rang up the game’s final six points, the Wolfpack outscored them after halftime, 43-25. The loss drops Syracuse to 17-8 overall and 8-4 in ACC play while N.C. State improved to 18-7 and 6-6.

The Orange forced 20 turnovers in the game, but permitted the hosts to shoot 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) from the field in the second half, all but erasing the advantage of all those miscues. The ‘Pack also owned the backboards, grabbing a 42-31 advantage in rebounding, and connected on 20-of-24 foul shots in the game.

N.C. State opened up a tight game by hanging a 14-3 run on SU for a 28-16 lead with four-and-a-half minutes left in the opening session. The Orange responded with 11 straight points to get right back into the contest.

Tyus Battle hit a pull-up from the free throw line to start the streak. Robert Braswell and Jalen Carey each added a foul shot, then Frank Howard drilled a straightaway three to make it a five-point game. Marek Dolezaj made the first of two free throws on consecutive possessions, then Howard swished a floater from the left side of the paint to trim the Wolfpack lead to 28-27 with just under 90 seconds left in the half.

North Carolina State got a pair of free throws for the final points of the session and took a 30-27 lead to the break.

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Syracuse got within a single point twice in the opening two minutes of the second half, but the ‘Pack needed just under three-and-a-half minutes to hang a 14-0 run and grab a 49-34 stranglehold on the game. The hosts remained in control for the next several minutes, never allowing the Orange to get closer than a dozen points and eventually pushing their lead to 61-43.

Coming out of the under-eight media timeout, SU posted seven straight points in under a minute, threatening to get back into the game. Howard banged in a right corner three to start the streak. Battle and Paschal Chukwu connected on an alley-oop, then Howard made a steal and set up a Battle floater that brought Syracuse within 61-50.

After the Orange defense got another stop, Battle missed a three. North Carolina State turned that into a dunk. Howard then missed from deep and the Wolfpack got a pair of foul shots, strengthening their lead to 15. Those missed shots jumpstarted a 12-2 run by N.C. State, giving them a 73-52 lead with under two-and-a-half minutes left.

While taking some bad shots and making a handful of turnovers, Frank Howard connected on five threes and paced the Orange with 21 points. Marek Dolezaj was the only other SU player to reach double digits, ending the night with ten points. Aside from those two players, the rest of the Syracuse roster shot 10-of-40 from the field, including missing all 14 of their three-point attempts.

Braxton Beverly hit four triples for North Carolina State and matched Howard’s 21 points in the game. Torin Dorn posted a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. D.J. Funderburk added a dozen points to the ‘Pack attack.

The Orange have a week to go back to the drawing board before hitting the hardwood next Wednesday night when they welcome #16 Louisville to the Carrier Dome. The Cardinals (17-8, 8-4) squandered a 23-point second half lead on Tuesday night in a home loss to #2 Duke, making it three losses in their last four outings, and will host Clemson Saturday afternoon.

Nine different players are in the Cards’ regular rotation and six of them average at least seven points per game. Forward Jordan Nwora leads the way, averaging 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories. Nwora has also made 61 threes this season, leading a squad with eight legitimate three-point shooters.

A shorthanded SU team had only six players see action at Louisville last season, but the group scratched out a 78-73 win. Tyus Battle led all scorers with 25 points and Frank Howard added 22.

ESPN will televise the matchup between Syracuse and Louisville starting at 7:00pm Eastern on Wednesday. The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com and through the ESPN app.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 550 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.