In a back and forth affair in the Dome, the Seminoles picked up their intensity on both sides of the floor in the second half in order to squeeze out a big road win. Here are the biggest takeaways as the Orange fall to below .500.
#1: FSU picks up defensive intensity in second half on Girard
Down 74-71 with three seconds left, Joe Girard curiously heaved the ball half court to seemingly no one in particular, resulting in a turnover and the end of Syracuse’s chance at tying the game. The sloppy turnover was not the only problem the FSU defense gave Girard.
While SU only had 12 turnovers for the game, Girard accounted for five of them. He also finished with just 11 points, all of them coming in the first half.
“He just did not seem to be in it,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “In the second half he had some opportunities to get by, but he just was not aggressive offensively.”
Girard appeared to be content settling for his outside shot, finishing 0-4 in the second half and 0-2 from 3-point land. He also had 0 assists and 2 turnovers.
#2: Syracuse’s defense falters again
As much as the game was dictated by FSU’s second half pressure, the Orange did not help themselves with their play defensively. The Seminoles, not known as a great outside shooting team this year, shot 60 percent from 3-point land, often on open looks due to SU’s poor defense.
“We were not as effective defensively as we have to be,” Boeheim said. “They made some long and tough threes, but we have to defend it better than we did.”
Syracuse has now dropped to 224th in the NCAA in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, an unheard of number for a Boeheim coached 2-3 zone.
This seems to be the common theme after every loss this season, that as much as the defense continues to try and improve, in the end not enough is done to win games. Letting FSU shoot 55 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3, it is clear the Orange have not improved enough on defense to make it matter in games.
#3: Syracuse continues to struggle in conference play
The Orange are now 10th in the ACC at 2-4 against conference opponents, and the struggle to finish above .500 for the year is in jeopardy.
“Coach Boeheim will tell you more than anyone this year is a process,” Syracuse forward Cole Swider said. “We have lost a lot of close games, so it is tough to lose like this. At the same time we have a good team and we believe we can go on a run until the last second of the season.”
Syracuse has 14 games left in the regular season, and seven of them are against teams with losing ACC records. But of the seven teams with winning records, SU will need to play No. 8 Duke twice, as 12-4 UNC once.
Time is running out for the Orange to avoid a losing season for the first time in Boeheim’s hall of fame coaching career.