A quick take on Syracuse’s impressive 63-60 comeback victory against Florida State, in its ACC opener Saturday afternoon at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla.:
WHAT HAPPENED: Also playing its first true road game of the season, Syracuse (5-3, 1-0) turned in its best defensive effort in the first eight games coming back from a 32-24 halftime deficit to stun the ‘Noles. Cole Swider hit two critical free throws with 10 seconds to play to give the Orange just enough cushion to withstand two final FSU three-point attempts to hold on and steal a road victory at one of the league’s toughest venues. The loss snapped Florida State’s 25 game ACC home winning streak, one win shy of matching Duke’s record set between January 1997 and February 2000. FSU last lost at ‘The Tuck’ in January 2019.
ANALYSIS: Jim Boeheim again made a strategic tweak to the zone defense to begin the second half, shifting Buddy Boeheim to the foul line in a 1-3-1 alignment and dared Florida State (5-3, 0-1) to shoot from the outside. The results proved effective. FSU finished 4-of-30 (13%) from beyond the arc, while the Orange offense got going outscoring FSU 39-28 after halftime. Florida State’s strategy was to make sure Buddy Boeheim did not hurt them offensively, and the Orange’s leading scorer was blanketed and double-teamed throughout much of the game finishing with a season-low six points on 3-of-10 shooting. Jesse Edwards fouled out with 3:35 to play, but not before another solid double-double effort with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. The SU bench did just enough to help the starters, highlighted by Symir Torrence recording five assists, and Frank Anselem’s four boards.
HERO: Joe Girard and Swider picked up the scoring slack for Buddy Boeheim, each finishing with a co-game high 16 points, and each hitting key second half three pointers to keep the Seminoles at bay. Swider also finished with 10 big rebounds, and the clutch fouls shots to help ice the come-from-behind emotional win.
ZERO: As mentioned, Florida State’s 13% shooting from three-point range also highlighted the Seminoles inability to score in the paint in the second half. FSU had just 10 of their 28 inside points after halftime as the smaller Orange eventually outrebound the ‘Noles 41-10. SU’s defensive rebounding helped to key the second half scoring opportunities, which highlighted a 22 point swing from SU trailing by 11 in the first half to leading by 11 with just under 6:00 to play, and eventually led to FSU’s long homecourt winning streak coming to an end.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to its home away from home, Madison Square Garden, to take part in the annual Jimmy V Classic this coming Tuesday night, December 7 to face No. 6 Villanova. Tennessee and Texas Tech play in the opening game of the doubleheader. SU and ‘Nova last played in 2014 in Philadelphia with the Wildcats winning 82-77. Villanova (6-2) blew out Saint Joseph’s 81-52 on Saturday afternoon. Game Time: 9:30 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN.