Only two days after SU’s win over Georgetown, Syracuse hosted Monmouth at the Dome on Monday night.
Monmouth came into Monday night 1-9 on the season, and also with an early intensity the Orange couldn’t match in the first half. Syracuse tightened its defense out of intermission, and pulled away late for their fourth straight win, 86-71.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
#1: Syracuse guards lead the way
During the majority of Syracuse’s win streak, the Ornage has relied on senior center Jesse Edwards. But Edwards was quiet on Monday, with just 12 points and 10 rebounds, taking only seven shots. Instead, it was Syracuse’s guards that stepped up in the win.
Reigning ACC Rookie of the Week Judah Mintz continued his torrid play, finishing with a game-high 24 points to go with 5 assists and 4 steals. Mintz paired well with Joe Girard, who finished with 16 points on 40 percent shooting from downtown.
“(I’m) just learning every game and breaking down film with the coaches,” Mintz said. “It is really about being solid in the zone. Mixing that with reading plays and really seeing the offense’s eyes.”
» Related: Jesse Edwards, Judah Mintz star in Syracuse win over Georgetown
#2: Orange start slow defensively
Monmouth was nonplussed in a road game against a high-major opponent. The Hawks came out shooting well, hitting 6 of 11 shots from 3 in the first half—several of them on wide open set shots—and led by as many as 5. Jack Collins was the main catalyst, scoring 16 points in the first half as the Hawks trailed just 42-40 at intermission.
Syracuse adjusted its defense at halftime, and Monmouth struggled to replicate its first half success. The Hawks shot just 3-12 from the perimeter and 38.5 percent from the field in the second half and SU outscored Monmouth by 13.
“It was better positioning in the second half but also a change in intensity,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “They were really good against the zone and really caused problems.”
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#3: Boeheim rotates through wings
All season, Jim Boeheim has tried to find a reliable option at wing. Though Chris Bell has started all 11 games, Boeheim has also given significant minutes to Justin Taylor, John Bol Ajak and Maliq Brown.
On Monday, it was Brown’s turn, as he played 24 minutes and finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds. He outplayed Ajak (15 minutes), Ajak (15) and Taylor (2). The minutes also came at the expense of Bell, who played 12 minutes and hit a pair of 3s, but also didn’t record any assists, rebounds, blocks or steals.
“Chris (Bell) had zero rebounds which is nothing new,” Boeheim said. “We can’t win that way. We will have to think about that going forward.”
That comment seemed to suggest there might be a change in the forward starting spot with Bell’s lack of production. If that’s the case, Brown would be one of the top options.
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