Syracuse basketball continues to be plagued by inconsistency

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Tyus Battle goes up for a shot. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Last year, the problem for the Syracuse Orange was shooting. I wrote often about their historically low percentages.

This year, that is still the problem, but only about half of the time. That inconsistency is even more troubling heading into the toughest stretch of the season in which 4 of 5 games are against top 16 opponents (3 against top 8). If this team can find some positive consistency, magic can happen. If not, this could be the stretch that boots the Orange out of the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s not get it twisted, overall this year’s team is still bad at shooting the ball. Not as bad as last year, but they still rank just 275th in the country in shooting percentage and 290th in 3-point percentage. But unlike most of last year, this year’s team has been able to put it together often enough to win some games that they otherwise may not have.

Let’s delve into the last six games, during which the Orange are 3-3. In the three wins they average a shooting percentage of 46.5 percent and 37.7 percent from downtown. In the 3 Ls… 37.5 percent and 25.7 percent.

Now, it doesn’t take Jay Bilas to tell you that the percentage in losses is going to be lower, but the 10 percent drops indicates a huge disparity.

What’s truly troubling is that when it’s an off night for the team, it’s an off night for almost everyone. Elijah Hughes, Tyus Battle, and Oshae Brissett account for 60 percent of Syracuse’s 70 points per game. Here’s how they did combined in the last six games:

» Related: Sputtering offense dooms Syracuse in loss to NC State

Opponent Combined Points Combined FG% Result
Virginia Tech 32 30.6 Loss
Boston College 50 55.8 Win
Pittsburgh 29 32.2 Win
Florida State 56 47.4 Loss
Boston College 40 48.3 Win
NC State 15 21.4 Loss

In half of the games they played somewhere between poorly and terrible, and in the other half they played very, very well. The odd thing here is that they actually won on a poor combined performance against Pitt and lost during a solid performance against Florida State. But that’s not really the point.

Look at those differentials. From game to game the point totals and shooting percentages were all over the place. No consistency.

Most teams have an off night and you accept that. But, if the Orange and their core three scorers had just an off night and not a terrible one, losses against NC State and Virginia Tech could have been different. The games would have been tighter and maybe things change.

Again, this was just our most recent 6 games. It’s like this team has an off night almost every other game throughout the entire season. Look at the loss to Georgia Tech, a sub-500 team, and then the win versus No. 1 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Against the Yellow Jackets, Hughes, Brissett, and Battle combined to shoot just 32.4 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from downtown en route to 38 points.

Against Duke? They combined for 66 points on 40.7 percent from the floor and 42.1 percent from 3.

It’s like a different team shows up every other night. That won’t work during the upcoming schedule. They won’t be able to produce a bad performance and still turn it into a victory.

Hopefully the right team shows up on enough nights to keep the Orange in the hunt for a tournament bid.

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Matt Goodman
About Matt Goodman 70 Articles
Matt worked for the Westchester Journal News, covering a variety of sports. He has also covered Syracuse University basketball from 2003-05 in both online and print. Matt graduated from Syracuse University in 2004 and currently resides in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @mattgoodman44.