Syracuse and Georgetown added another chapter to their historic rivalry on Saturday afternoon when the Hoyas visited the Dome. After a slow start, the Orange made some key adjustments and cruised to the 83-64 victory.
Here are the main takeaways from the win over the Hoyas.
#1: Syracuse relies on their size defensively in win
Georgetown came out strong against the Orange, taking an early 17-6 lead in the first half. Georgetown forward Akok Akok and center Qudus Wahab both started for Georgetown and had an immediate presence, accounting for six of those early points. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim went to his bench early, subbing out starting forward Benny Williams for John Bol Ajak, and that immediately changed the momentum of the game.
With length and impressive quickness for his size, Ajak was crucial for the zone defense against a bigger Georgetown team. The forward also helped close the gaps on the perimeter and formed an impressive tandem with center Jesse Edwards. Though the Hoyas started 3-4 from deep, but the Hoyas finished just 6-25 after Ajak subbed in.
“He’s active and he facilitates a lot,” Boeheim said. “He’s been playing great basketball. We were even when Jesse went out and then we had a 10-point lead when he went back in.”
Ajak has had years learning to understand the zone defense and it has paid off. The forward can defend the wing in the zone when matched up with multiple big men, the solution to a big problem early in the game. His presence on defense combined with his improvement seeing the court on offense could lead to more playing time in certain situations.
#2: Judah Mintz impresses with double-double performance
Boeheim has been harping on Judah Mintz to use his passing ability to find teammates. Through the first six games of the season, Mintz had just five or more assists once.
He’s eclipsed that mark in three of his last four games now after he finished with 16 points, 10 assists and 5 steals against the Hoyas. “They were kind of confused whether they wanted to stay on Jesse or come off the ball screen so at times Jesse was open and at times I was,” Mintz said. “It’s all about figuring out what to do to be in the best position.”
Mintz has played confidently for the Orange during their three game winning streak. His ability to lead the offense and bring intensity for the zone defensively has been key for their success.
#3: Jesse Edwards’ performance gets high praise from Patrick Ewing
Edwards has been dominant for Syracuse throughout the non-conference schedule. Being double-teamed at times, Edwards has been able to facilitate too, causing problems in the paint for defenses all season. Despite Georgetown’s length, with two starters taller than 6’10, Edwards still shined in the win with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
Postgame, Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing—an 11-time NBA All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA player, and an NBA Hall of Famer—commented on seeing a lot of Edwards’ development in his play when he was younger. After hearing that, Edwards was stunned and speechless.
“That’s crazy,” Edwards said. “I don’t even know what to say to that. That is an honor. He is a monster, and to hear that its a true honor.”
In his final year at Syracuse, Edwards has shown tremendous growth in his ability to be Syracuse’s true center. After struggling for consistency at center with previous teams, this season the Orange have found their dominant paint presence with their senior.