A quick take on Syracuse’s total out-of-kilter showing in its 78-61 defeat to Clemson Saturday afternoon, in front of an allowed crowd of 1,876 at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C.:
WHAT HAPPENED: It was simply a masterful performance by Clemson (12-5, 6-5), and the game was essentially over at halftime with CU up 20, and Syracuse (10-6, 4-5) having scored a season-low 19 points in any half. The Tigers kept it up in the second half building the lead to as big as 25 points at several points. Meanwhile, ‘Cuse shots continued to miss the basket finishing with the second-worst game point total behind the 58 at Virginia. Clemson took its time on most second half offensive possessions as their scoring output continued, while simultaneously not allowing nearly enough time for SU to even think about a comeback that wasn’t going to happen. The Orange dropped to 1-5 all-time at Littlejohn.
ANALYSIS: Teams that play hawkish man defense (again, think Virginia) against the Orange offense cause havoc, and Clemson’s tough “D” was no different. SU shot only 12 percent in the first half and 30 percent for the game. Unlike Syracuse’s style of playing seven-to-eight players max, the Tigers went 11 deep (10 players scored), sending out fresh bodies that played that aggressive defense and had a lot to do with the dearth of Orange scoring. Clemson owned the glass 42-to-25 causing numerous second-chance scoring opportunities, and if the Tigers were more efficient with the ball (19 turnovers) it might have led to an even more embarrassing final score for SU. The one bright spot for Syracuse on the afternoon, Joe Girard’s second half offense which resulted in a game-high 19 points.
HERO: Clemson big man Aamir Simms was tremendous. If he wasn’t hitting his shots (7-of-9 FGs), he was strong on the glass (11 rebounds) keeping the Syracuse defense moving, and helping open teammates find the scoring column. Simms finished with a team-high 18 points. Tigers guards Clyde Trapp (11 assists) and Nick Honor (5-of-8 from beyond the arc – 15 points) also had a lot to do with making the Orange’s day miserable,
ZERO: Where to begin for the ‘Cuse? The starting five struggled scoring all day (Alan Griffin had no first half field goals and finished with 12 points) as shots would not fall, and the Tigers were relentless on the boards. Jim Boeheim’s bench, other than Kadary Richmond’s early aggressiveness made no contribution. Bourama Sidibe and Woody Newton returned to the court after long absences, but as could be expected, both players are going to need some more action to make worthy contributions. They combined for exactly one point in 15 minutes of playing time.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse stays on the road to face North Carolina State (8-7, 4-6) at PNC Arena in Raleigh this Tuesday, Feb. 9. The teams just played last Sunday (Jan. 31) in the Dome, with SU, playing stout defense in the second half, coming back from nine points down to win 76-73. The Wolfpack dominated start-to-finish at Boston College Saturday, winning impressively 81-65. Game Time: 6:30 p.m. ET. TV: ACC Network.