Instant Juice: Syracuse 55, VCU 67

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim speaks at 2021 ACC Tipoff.

A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 67-55 loss against Virginia Commonwealth Wednesday night, in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament held at the Atlantis resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas:

WHAT HAPPENED:  Syracuse (2-2), which captured the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis, dropped its second consecutive game after leading by four points at halftime.  The Atlantic 10’s Rams turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and capitalized on second chance opportunities, while the Orange struggled shooting and getting into an offensive flow.   Earlier in the day, Michigan State edged Loyola 63-61 on a last second basket, and Connecticut outlasted Auburn 115-109 in double overtime to advance to face each other in the semifinals.

ANALYSIS: After a sloppy first half in which both teams shot under 30%, Virginia Commonwealth (3-2) turned up its defense and outscored Syracuse 40-28 in the second half.  VCU’s tight man-to-man “D” forced the Orange to shoot from the outside, and SU finished just 5-for-23 from beyond the arc.   Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim were the lone bright spots for Syracuse combining for 37 points and 18 rebounds, but Buddy Boeheim shot just 2-of-10 from long distance, and they simply did not get enough help from their teammates.  The faster and more athletic Rams hit seven crucial three-pointers, and got offensive contributions from nine of their 11 players that played.

HERO: VCU big man Levi Stockard III had a team-high 15 points to go along with four boards and four assists, while guards KeShawn Curry and Marcus Tsohonis were pests and pesky at both ends.  They combined for 23 points, six rebounds, and five assists, controlling the offensive pace against the SU zone, and harassing the Orange outside shooting game.

» Related: Jim Boeheim continues to win in the transfer portal

ZERO: Syracuse’s bench production was non-existent as Benny Williams, Frank Anselem, and Symir Torrence had zero points.  Orange center Jesse Edwards fouled out with 4:43 to play, and his foul trouble throughout the game created numerous inside scoring opportunities for VCU to the tune of 30 points inside the paint.  Cole Swider was just 2-for-14 shooting, missing all seven of his treys.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse falls into loser’s bracket to face either defending national champion Baylor (4-0) or Arizona State (2-2) on Thursday night.  Those two teams met in the fourth and final quarterfinal game later Wednesday evening.  Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.  TV: ESPN2.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.