Syracuse gave up an 8-0 run before the midpoint of the second half, losing the lead for good en route to a 67-55 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The Orange (2-2) struggled on offense against the high-pressure defense of the Rams (3-2), shooting just 29 percent and turning the ball over 16 times.
While SU started the game with five points from Jimmy Boeheim in the opening two minutes, VCU rattled off ten straight points several minutes later, taking a 17-12 lead. Two threes by Buddy Boeheim reclaimed the lead for Syracuse, but only briefly.
The Orange had their most successful span of the contest late in the opening half, holding the Rams without a point from the 3:56 mark until the waning seconds before halftime. The defense forced five missed shots and three turnovers in that time, allowing SU to ring up nine straight points. A VCU jumper shortly before the horn clipped the Syracuse lead to 27-23.
SU would trade the lead a couple times with the Rams in the opening minutes of the second half, but eight straight markers gave VCU the lead for good. The Orange hung around for the next several minutes, but Virginia Commonwealth’s fifth three of the half pushed their lead out to 55-47 with a little over seven minutes to play.
Syracuse could only clip the margin down to six until VCU closed the game with the final half dozen points.
Buddy Boeheim led all scorers in the game with 20 points, but shot for 6-for-17, including just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. Jimmy Boeheim was the only other Orange player to reach double figures, posting a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double.
Levi Stockard III topped Virginia Commonwealth with 15 points. Marcus Tsohonis added a dozen markers, including hitting three triples, while Keshawn Curry added 11.
- Virginia Commonwealth was a difficult matchup, as their athleticism again exposed SU’s shortcomings. The Rams took advantage, as well, finishing the game with ten steals and eight blocked shots, topping the Orange in both categories.
- Joe Girard III had an ugly stat line, submitting zero assists to go with a half dozen turnovers, but his teammates often failed him. On many occasions after Girard crossed center court, trapping double teams came, but his teammates often did not heed a cardinal rule of basketball: when your teammate is in trouble, come to the ball to make for a shorter pass. Girard was left to occasionally loft crosscourt passes over taller defenders, making the ball an easier target for help defenders.
- Cole Swider made a nice adjustment after missing his first two threes of the game, using a couple dribbles to set up a short baseline jumper, then drove into the paint to set up Jesse Edwards on the doorstep. Of course, as the game progressed, Swider seemed to get more and more frustrated, leading to a difficult night shooting. Swider missed all seven threes as part of a 2-for-14 shooting effort and is now 3-for-22 from deep on the campaign.
- On a night when his size and athleticism were needed, Jesse Edwards spent over half the game on the bench with foul trouble. While he finished with six points, four boards, and three blocks, Edwards simply needs to be available for longer than the 15:11 he logged before fouling out.
- The Orange shot just 29 percent from the field. Their worst performance last season came against Houston, who eliminated SU from the NCAA Tournament by holding them to just 28.0 percent from the floor.
- After missing their first three of the second half, the Rams made five of their next seven three-point shots. That success from deep turned the game from a four-point SU lead to an eight-point margin in favor of VCU.
- VCU entered the game scoring the fewest points per game among Division I schools, averaging just 50.8 points per outing and standing 355th in the country at 78.4 points per 100 possessions.
Syracuse continues play in the Battle 4 Atlantis with a Thanksgiving matchup against Arizona State. The Sun Devils (2-3) were knocked off by #6 Baylor, 75-63.
Kimani Lawrence leads ASU with per-game averages of 13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds. After leading the Sun Devils against Baylor with six threes and 20 points, D.J. Horne is averaging 11.6 points per game while shooting 46.7 percent from long range.
Thursday’s tip-off will be at approximately 7: