Instant Juice: Syracuse 71, Florida State 76

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Dec 4, 2021; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim (35) drives past Florida State Seminoles guard Caleb Mills (4) during the second half at Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

A quick take on Syracuse’s disappointing 76-71 loss against Florida State Saturday afternoon, on a frosty 4º winter’s day outside of the Dome:

WHAT HAPPENED: After Syracuse came from behind to defeat Florida State 63-60 in Tallahassee on December 4, ending the ‘Noles 25-game home winning streak, this time it was FSU that came back after trailing by a point at halftime to earn a hard-fought victory.  Down 72-71 in the final 10 seconds, Jimmy Boeheim’s follow-up shot underneath would not fall, and Florida State (10-5, 4-2) got the rebound and an easy fast break basket to clinch the victory.  Florida State shot 70% from beyond the arc in the second half, playing just enough defense to pull out a win and send SU back to a sub .500 record for the latest point in any season under Jim Boeheim.

ANALYSIS: Syracuse (8-9, 2-4) led by as many as 10 points in the first half and 37-36 at halftime, but cooled off shooting in the second half (30% from three point range) and could not get the clutch basket with possession off a timeout in the final seconds.  Hurting its comeback bid SU matched its season average with 12 turnovers, and Florida State turned those Orange miscues into 22 points.  Syracuse also did not come up with enough defensive stops when it needed to in the second half.  Jesse Edwards played well and managed to not foul out for the first time in ACC play this season, he produced a strong effort inside with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while Cole Swider also continued to improve his play as the season progresses finishing with 17 points.  But those performances could not change the fact that Syracuse needs to win games to keep slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive in a very balanced ACC season.

HERO: Florida State guard Caleb Mills hit several key second half baskets to stop Syracuse momentum, finishing with a game-high 19 points including nailing 5-of-6 three-pointers.  Mills also dished out five assists, and had two steals and two rebounds.  Fellow guard Rayquan Evans also stood out with 15 points and five assists.  Mills and Evans also hit all five of their combined free throws.

» Related: Could Syracuse have a losing season for the first time under Jim Boeheim?

ZERO: Freshman forward Benny Williams, who seemingly has been in Jim Boeheim’s doghouse all season, did not play for the first time in his brief SU career, moving down the bench from his usual spot sitting next to the coach, to sitting next to the other Orange reserves during the second half.  Williams not playing was an apparent coach’s decision as there was no pregame word about an injury or other explanation that he would not play.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse completes a three game home stand facing off against Clemson in the Dome this coming Tuesday night, January 18.  The teams split their two games last season, SU falling at Littlejohn Coliseum 78-61, and winning on its homecourt 64-54.  Clemson (10-6, 2-3) hosts Boston College Saturday evening.  Game Time: 9:00 p.m. ET.  TV: ACC Network.

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About Brad Bierman 817 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.