A quick take on Syracuse’s excruciatingly tough 75-72 loss to Miami at the Dome Saturday afternoon in the final regular season game:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse, in the most agonizing fashion, suffered its first losing season in Jim Boeheim’s 46 year career in an unbelievable finish. Up 72-65, the Orange completely collapsed as Miami went on a 10-0 run to close out the game and silence the building. In an eerily similar manner to beating SU 88-87 at home on January 5, when the Hurricanes came from 14 down to win, Miami simply outhustled an Orange team that on Senior Day had so much to play for. Prior to the game, seven Syracuse players (Buddy Boeheim, Jimmy Boeheim, Paddy Casey, Nick Giancola, Chris LaValle, Bourame Sidibe, and Cole Swider) were saluted receiving framed jerseys and a loud ovation from the crowd. But the shocking nature of the defeat will forever haunt those players when they reminisce about their last home game in a Syracuse uniform.
ANALYSIS: With Syracuse (15-16, 9-11) down to essentially just seven players in the rotation as the injured Jesse Edwards and Symir Torrence watched from the bench, and with Benny Williams excused while nursing an injury at his campus residence, the Boeheim brothers shined in the first half scoring 26 of SU’s 37 points as the Orange led by nine. But as they have done all season, Miami (22-9, 14-6) has now won five games after trailing by 13 or more points, the Hurricanes out-hustled and were most aggressive against a passive SU defense, and simply wanted the game more than the ‘Cuse down the stretch after trailing by 18 points at the 17:01 mark of the second half. Buddy Boeheim ended his SU career with a game-high 30 points and took over as the ACC’s leading scorer, but it’s a mark that’s tarnished with how the game’s final minute played out. In the worst ending of a game this season, a season that has turned into the worst campaign of Jim Boeheim’s career, SU now limps into the ACC Tournament (see below) with its collective tail between its legs.
HERO: Miami guard Jordan Miller came alive in the second half to spark the ‘Canes amazing comeback. Miller hit several key late baskets and free throws scoring a team-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, nailing all five of his foul shots, and grabbing an amazing 13 rebounds to help key UM’s stunning victory. Miller’s follow-up on a missed free throw with 12.8 seconds left, as Syracuse did not block out effectively, was the dagger that put Miami up by one, and he subsequently hit two free throws with 0.03 to play for the winning margin.
ZERO: As has been the case this entire sub .500 season, Syracuse simply could not close out games with a late lead, and the finale was no exception. The Orange could not get a pass inbounds under the Miami basket after a Hurricanes field goal, suffered an unforced turnover, and did not block out on the aforementioned missed ‘Canes free throw to allow Miller’s follow-up basket. Instead of ending a three game losing streak with a tad of momentum heading into the post season, SU stunningly watched a seven point lead with 1:07 left evaporate into an inexplicable defeat.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse begins play in the 69th ACC Tournament, and its 9th appearance in the event, on Wednesday, March 9 as the No. 9 seed facing the No. 8 seed Florida State at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The teams split their regular season games each winning on the road, Syracuse 63-60 in Tallahassee on December 4, and FSU 65-61 in the Dome January 15. Florida State (17-13, 10-10) ended the regular season beating North Carolina State 89-76 at home Saturday afternoon. Game Time: 12:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN or ESPN2.