A quick take on Syracuse’s 79-74 loss to NC State on Tuesday evening at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Syracuse took a 68-62 lead midway through the second half, Devon Daniels reeled off seven straight points to give NC State a 69-68 lead with 4:26 to go. The Wolfpack took command of the game after a CJ Bryce 3-pointer gave NC State a seven point lead with 2:34 to go, and SU would get no closer than four the rest of the way. Syracuse was without their top scorer Elijah Hughes (more on that below), and for the second straight game needed to rely heavily on its freshmen.
ANALYSIS: This was a must-win game for two teams that were battling to stay on the right side of the NCAA bubble. For NC State, it picked up critical Quad 1 win, with the Orange ranked at 65 in the NET rankings (teams are awarded a Quad 1 win for road victories against the top 75). For Syracuse, it severely damaged its NCAA chances, and at this point, they’ll probably need upset road victories against Florida State and Louisville to give them a legitimate shot at an at-large NCAA bid. The task will prove even more difficult if Hughes misses any extended time. Hughes suffered a lower body injury in warmups and only played three minutes. As a result, the Orange had to dip into its bench, with extended minutes from Quincy Guerrier (37 minutes) and Jessie Edwards (13). That inexperience in part led to NC State shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 11-25 from downtown.
HERO: Bryce and Daniels proved to be difficult players to contain with the zone, as the two combined for 42 points on 13-22 shooting from the field. Joseph Girard III led the Orange with a career-high 30 points, while Guerrier also chipped in a career-high 16 points to go with 10 rebounds.
ZERO: Buddy Boeheim slogged through a 4-15 shooting night, and finished with 10 points. Bourama Sidibe was ineffective in his 25 minutes, finishing with more fouls (5) than points (2).
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to play No. 8 Florida State on Saturday at noon. TV: ESPN2.