Quick Hits: Positives for Syracuse in second half offense

Dec 20, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim speaks to the media following Syracuse's loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears/The Juice Online.

Syracuse lost on the road, 73-66, on Saturday to Virginia. Here are some quick hits from the game:

  • Jesse Edwards has struggled with the adjustment to ACC play. After only really struggling on offense against Illinois in SU’s first dozen games, Edwards has shot 50 percent or lower in each of the last four games, all against conference foes (he was shooting 66.4 percent from the field prior to this stretch). Since the Pittsburgh game prior to the holiday break, Edwards is shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

  • Virginia shot 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) from three-point range in the game, the ninth time in 14 ACC matchups with Syracuse where they have shot at least 35 percent from beyond the arc.
  • Benny Williams missed the game due to an illness, being replaced in the starting lineup by John Bol Ajak. It was an understandable decision, hoping that Ajak’s modest passing ability could help grease the gears on offense, but the Cavaliers treated him as a complete non-threat, using his man as a second defender on the nearest SU player. Ajak was replaced by Maliq Brown less than four minutes into the action for the remainder of the game.
  • If nothing else, the Orange should treat their second half shooting effort as a positive. After the break, SU shot 50 percent overall and 6-for-9 from deep, posting 1.176 points per possession against the Cavaliers, who came into the game ranked in the top 20 in the nation in defensive efficiency.
  • That Virginia defense certainly did one thing well against Syracuse. The Orange were forced into 16 turnovers on 66 possessions (24.2 percent). Judah Mintz (four), Edwards (four), and Brown (three) were the biggest offenders for SU.
  • The Cavalier defense also gave a very, very rude introduction to Quadir Copeland. Copeland had the ball stolen from him on the first possession he was in the game, then nearly had it stolen again, this time in the backcourt, on the following possession.
  • While he did lead all scorers with 19 points, Joe Girard III had a tough night, as well, often forcing the issue and finishing 6-for-17 from the field. Space to simply get off a shot was at a premium for Girard, but when he did get space on three occasions, he connected from long range each time. Girard’s field goals in the game:
    • an open deep wing three following a crosscourt kickout pass and two swing passes to rotate back to the original side of the court
    • a contested turnaround mid-range jumper on the baseline
    • a contested three coming off a screen where he was leaning to his left to create space away from the recovering defender
    • an open wing three where he cut away from his defender as Symir Torrence neared with the ball and his defender changed course to double team Torrence
    • a quick-release three off one dribble in a pick-and-roll with Edwards
    • an open three off a Brown crosscourt pass after the press came up with a rare steal
  • Girard also had another three off an open look wiped out when Mounir Hima was called for an illegal screen.
  • If it seems like Virginia plays a disciplined brand of offensive basketball, you are correct. The Cavs assisted on 22 of their 23 field goals.

» Related: This trio holds the key to success for Syracuse’s season


The Orange (10-6, 3-2 ACC) return to action on Wednesday night when they welcome Virginia Tech (11-5, 1-4) to the JMA Wireless Dome. The Hokies have dropped their last four games, all in conference play.

Guard Sean Pedulla paces a high-scoring Virginia Tech offense with 17.3 points and 4.3 assists per game. Grant Basile (13.2 points, 5.3 rebounds per game) and Justyn Mutts (13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds per game) combine to form an effective forward duo. Mutts posted a triple-double against SU last year, rolling up 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists.

Basile leads the Hokies with 31 three-pointers made on 38.3 percent shooting while Pedulla has made 31 treys and Hunter Cattour 27, the latter at a 40.3 percent clip. Cattour, however, has missed the last five games with an arm injury.

Wednesday night’s Syracuse-Virginia Tech game will get underway at 7:00pm Eastern and be televised by regional sports networks.



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About Jim Stechschulte 894 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. He currently resides in Syracuse.