After dropping 4 out of the last 5 games to begin ACC play, the Syracuse Orange were in need of a victory against Clemson to get on track before heading to Durham and Duke over the weekend.
In an offensively dictated game, both teams were letting it fly with Syracuse shooting 40.9% from three and outlasting Clemson late, 91-78. Here is what came out of the Orange heading back to .500 at 9-9.
#1: Syracuse leans on offense to get job done late
Clemson started the game slow and trailed 21-9 early in the first half. After the Tigers went on a 16-7 run to tie up the game, the rest of the game provided plenty of back and forth offense to make it close down the stretch.
Shooting 53.4% from the field, the Orange were able to outlast Clemson down the stretch thanks in large part to the three point shooting of Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim. Girard shot 4-5 from deep while Boeheim finished with 25 points on 44.4% shooting from three.
Postgame Joe Girard said “It makes it hard for defenders. It also opens up plays in the lane for other guys. It’s all about making plays and doing what the defense gives you.”
Boeheim and Girard filling up the scoring on the stat sheet is a relief and indication for what Syracuse needs in order to pull out close games, especially in conference play. When both guards heat up and defenses need to focus in on them, other opportunities also arise for guys like Jesse Edwards who finished with 15 points.
#2: Orange improve defensively against the Tigers
In a game that saw a lot of offense throughout forty minutes, late in the game Syracuse was able to lock up defensively to win with ease.
In the final ten minutes Syracuse outscored Clemson 28-18, limiting Clemson offensively when it mattered. The Orange also were able to out rebound Clemson 39-26, a key component to their 18 fast break points.
“I’m proud of the way this team fought. Four of five games ago everyone was saying we would get out-rebounded. That was not the case tonight… We played well but still made mistakes you cannot against really good teams,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.
It is obvious Boeheim feels improvement on the defensive end but not enough to outlast top opponents in the country, which has already been seen this season against teams like Auburn and Miami. Syracuse’s toughest challenge to date slates ahead on the road Saturday against Duke.
#3: Boeheim continues to not use his bench
One of the biggest questions going into conference play this year was the ability for Boeheim to rely on the Orange bench. Despite what the beginning of the year may have indicated against smaller schools, like usual Boeheim dwindled the rotation that is now seen during ACC games.
Symir Torrence had 14 minutes off the bench, while three other players Bourama Sidibe, Benny Williams, and Frank Anselem combined for just 11 bench minutes total.
The bench only combined for eight points, showing again that Syracuse has struggled to get solid play from guys outside the starting five. Even in a game where Jesse Edwards once again fouled out, back up big men were used as little as possible.
The little amount of faith in the backups and especially at the center position is a concerning problem for the Orange. It is clear Boeheim does not have the confidence during the most challenging games to rely on someone off the bench.