Instant Juice: Syracuse 74, Wake Forest 77 OT

Dec 16, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim reacts to a play against the Northeastern Huskies during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A quick take on Syracuse’s tough-to-swallow 77-74 overtime loss against Wake Forest Saturday afternoon at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C.:

WHAT HAPPENED: Playing in one of its two alternate orange road jerseys (‘CUSE),  Syracuse (7-8, 1-3) remained winless in 2022 dropping its third straight ACC game.  Up 71-69 with 10.4 seconds left in regulation, SU’s inbound pass went out of bounds back to Wake Forest, and Dallas Walton’s subsequent jam with 3 seconds left sent the game to overtime.  In OT, the Orange simply could not hit the outside shots it attempted by Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Cole Swider, scoring on just one Swider basket inside, not enough to swipe a much-needed momentum boost to the season.  SU finished just 8-of-29 from beyond the arc.  Wake Forest (13-3, 3-2) hit just enough three point shots (11) to keep the Orange defense honest, but Wake did not help itself by missing nine free throws in what tuned out to be a three point margin.

ANALYSIS: In a game style that will be commonplace in an ACC season in which there are many teams bunched together,  it’s going to come down to which team can make plays down the stretch, and the Orange simply did not make the key plays late in regulation and in overtime to steal a road win against a hot team at home.  The killer: Up two points, Jimmy and Buddy Boeheim not cleanly getting the ball inbounds in front of the Demon Deacons bench.  Wake Forest won its 10th straight at The Joel by getting key offensive production from leading scorer Alondes Williams (17 of his game-high 25 points after halftime), and inside from Khadim Sy who finished with 12 points.  Jesse Edwards fouled out with 9:02 to play, and Wake took advantage in attacking the SU zone to finish with 24 points in the paint and attempting 25 free throws.  Buddy Boeheim struggled for his 17 points on 5-of-20 shooting, while Jimmy Boeheim led SU with 21 points.  Having Edwards only play half the game because of foul trouble (six points, five rebounds), is not going to be a recipe for success in a season where SU is now below .500 approaching mid-January, unheard of in the Jim Boeheim era.

HERO: Wake Forest’s leading scorer Williams was all over the court getting baskets inside and out, or finding an open teammate for a good look.  Besides the 25 points, Williams was strong on the boards with 12 rebounds and four assists.  Isaiah Mucius had 16 first half points for the Deacs, and played tough defense much of the game against Buddy Boeheim.

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ZERO: Jim Boeheim’s gamble to reinsert Edwards back into the game with four personal fouls with 10:21 to play backfired when Edwards fouled out 1:19 later at the 9:02 mark of the second half.  Wake Forest promptly looked to score repeatedly down low or draw fouls underneath and the strategy worked, although the nine misses on the charity stripe nearly cost them the victory.  SU managed just one field goal in OT, sealing its fate.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to face Pittsburgh in the Dome next Tuesday night, January 11, the start of a three game homestand.  The Panthers shockingly swept the season series last year over a 10 day period winning in the Dome 63-60, and blowing out the Orange 96-76 at Petersen Events Center.  Pittsburgh (6-9, 1-3) earned its first ACC win beating Boston College 69-67 at home Saturday afternoon.  Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET.  TV: ESPNU.

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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.