A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 84-77 loss against Georgia Tech, on a seasonably warm Saturday afternoon outside of McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse again failed to get its first Quadrant 1 victory of the season, losing a five point halftime lead as it was all Georgia Tech in the second half. The Yellow Jackets led by 13 in the first half before Alan Griffin’s shooting (20 first half points) kept the Orange alive, and SU actually led by five at halftime. After that it snowballed against the Orange defense, as Georgia Tech controlled the offensive pace picking apart the SU zone, and excelled in its transition game leading to 50 second half points. With two regular season games left to be played, no doubt the Orange have to win out and likely capture the ACC Tournament to keep slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
ANALYSIS: Georgia Tech (13-8, 9-6) showed that its strength to beat the SU zone was not three point shooting, but points in the paint. Repeatedly in the second half, the Yellow Jackets made the extra pass that got their best shot opportunity, many close-in baskets to pull away for a crucial victory. Moving into the top half of the ACC standings with their fourth straight win, the Jackets are getting closer to their first NCAA bid in a decade. Syracuse (18-8, 7-7) backup big man Jesse Edwards stepped up at times with Marek Dolezaj in foul trouble throughout the game. Edwards, still a huge work in progress, provided some glimpses of the importance of having size in the lineup finishing with seven points and eight rebounds. Besides Griffin’s early points, the rest of the SU offense was maddingly inconsistent with the game on the line until the 10:00 mark of the second half. If the season ended today, these two teams would seemingly meet again in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game March 10 at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.
HERO: Senior big man Moses Wright was a beast at both ends of the floor for Tech, fouling out Dolezaj with 5:26 to play. Wright scored a game-high 31 points, with eight slam dunks, had 16 rebounds-nine offensive boards, to keep Jackets scoring chances alive on multiple possessions. Fellow senior Jordan Usher complimented Wright’s game with his strong all-around play, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six big assists.
ZERO: Too many turnovers, and too many offensive rebounds (16) by Georgia Tech provided second chance scoring opportunities that doomed the Orange. SU was simply sloppy turning the ball over 14 times, directly leading Georgia Tech to score 28 points on those mistakes along with a whopping 19 points in transition. Despite scoring a team-high 26 points, Jim Boeheim benched Griffin down the stretch for his lapses defensively.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home for its second-to-last regular season game this coming Monday, March 1, facing North Carolina for the second time this season. On January 12, the Orange played pretty well but could not come back in an 81-75 defeat at the Smith Center, where SU has never won against the Tar Heels. North Carolina (14-8, 8-5), who shockingly lost at home 83-70 to Marquette this past Wednesday, hosted No. 9/11 Florida State later Saturday afternoon. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN .