A quick take on Syracuse’s 62-46 loss to Houston in the Sweet 16:
WHAT HAPPENED: Kadary Richmond’s corner 3-pointer cut into Houston’s 12-point second half deficit, pulling the Orange to within 41-37 with 12:42 to go. That is as close as Syracuse would get the rest of the way. Houston responded with a 9-2 run, and DeJon Jarreau’s steal and thunderous slam with 3:09 left put the Cougars up 58-43, and an exclamation point on their ticket to the Elite 8. Houston was in control nearly from the tip, quickly jumping out to a 17-5 lead midway through the first half. The Orange tied the game at 20 after three Buddy Boeheim free throws, but the Cougars ended the half on a 10-0 run, and Syracuse could never quite recover.
ANALYSIS: Houston’s defense proved to be fatal to Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament chances. With Jarreau smothering Boeheim (12 points on 3-13 shooting from the field, 1-9 from 3), the Orange couldn’t find a consistent source of offense anywhere else. Syracuse combined to shoot 5-23 from downtown and a dreadful 28.0 percent from the field. It was a defensive battle, as the Orange mostly limited Houston as well. The Cougars struggled to find clean looks as well, but benefited, as many thought they would, on the offensive glass. Houston was +9 on the the boards, including 11 offensive rebounds, which proved to be enough for the final margin.
HERO: Jarreau came close to a triple-double, finishing with nine points, eight assists and eight rebounds, and more importantly, holding Boeheim to a pedestrian effort after he had averaged 27.5 ppg in two tourney matchups. Jesse Edwards made a huge impact in the first half, instantly reshaping SU’s defense, as the Orange erased a double-digit deficit behind his five points and six rebounds.
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ZERO: Alan Griffin was a non-factor again for the fourth straight game. He was 0-3 from the field, and only made a cameo appearance in the second half. After a break-out NCAA Tournament, Robert Braswell also went quiet, going scoreless on 0-3 shooting.
WHAT’S NEXT: A long offseason, with some lingering questions about next year’s roster. Among them include whether Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe will use their extra year of eligibility because of COVID; whether there are any potential transfers (Woody Newton, John Bol Ajak and Frank Anselem); or if Syracuse will dip into the transfer portal for help at center. Syracuse also welcomes five-star wing Benny Williams into the fold as its only 2021 commit.
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