Instant Juice: Syracuse 69, Rutgers 79

Rutgers-12-8-20-Girard
Dec 8, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) controls the ball against Rutgers Scarlet Knight Jacob Young (42) during the first half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

A quick take on Syracuse’s 79-69 loss on Tuesday evening in the Big 10-ACC Challenge:

WHAT HAPPENED: After Quincy Guerrier’s layup made it 65-62 with 5:40 left, Rutgers immediately responded with an 11-0 run to take a 73-65 lead with 2:02 to go. Shot selection (or lack thereof) was a recurring theme throughout the night, and Joe Girard’s two rushed 3-point attempts allowed the Scarlet Knights to get out in transition and get easy baskets. It was Syracuse’s first loss to Rutgers since 2003, and was the first of the 2020-21 season.

ANALYSIS: Coming off one of its best outside shooting games in school history (15-30 from downtown), the Orange went cold on Tuesday, shooting just 7-26 from beyond the arc. Girard (more on him below) and Alan Griffin appeared to force shots, and were a combined 3-15 from 3. Syracuse also struggled to rebound, giving up a 43-26 edge to the Scarlet Knights on the glass. On defense, the Orange couldn’t contain the 3-pointer in the first half, and Ron Harper Jr. took advantage, hitting his first five attempts from downtown. Overall, SU surrendered 9-24 shooting from downtown, and Rutgers appeared nonplussed by the zone, shooting 48.3 percent from the field while assisting on 19 of its 28 field goals.

HERO: Harper led all scorers with 26 points, while Montez Mathis and Jacob Young combined with 37 points. Griffin led the way for SU with 20 points, but turned the ball over six times. Guerrier chipped in 18 points and five rebounds, and had one of his best outside shooting performances, hitting 3 of his 5 attempts from distance.

» Related: Syraceuse’s torrid shooting helps dispatch Rider

ZERO: Girard needs to improve his shot selection. One such example came with 15:01 left in the game. After Gurrier steal gave the Orange numbers in transition, Girard opted instead to pull up for a deep 25-foot 3-point attempt, which barely grazed the rim. His two other 3-point attempts when Syracuse had the led with under seven minutes to go also took momentum away from the Orange. After Buddy Boeheim returns from his COVID-19 quarantine, Jim Boeheim will have a decision to make about whether to start him or Kadary Richmond (6 points, 7 assists, 5 steals, 3 rebounds) at point guard. As of right now, Richmond, the freshman, has appeared more in control of the offense and a significantly more disruptive defensive option.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse opens ACC play when it travels to Boston College on Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. TV: ESPNU.

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About Wes Cheng 2662 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.