Balancing Act

Syracuse had its best offensive game in months as they beat Western Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The NCAA Tournament is a great place to hit the reset button, and Syracuse did just that on Thursday with their offensive performance. Shooting performances under 40% had become routine for the Orange as they lost five of their last seven entering the tournament.

The reset button ended up being exactly what Syracuse needed.

Syracuse got back to sharing the basketball, attacking teams with offensive balance and, most importantly, hitting open shots.

C.J. Fair was 6-13 from the field, Tyler Ennis was 7-11, Jerami Grant was 6-9, and Trevor Cooney was 5-10 as the Orange shot 49% as a team. Even the team number was low, as backups hurt the overall percentage in garbage time.

Balance. Efficiency. Execution.

Syracuse even stepped up from the outside, hitting seven out of 17 from beyond the arc. Cooney led the way there hitting half of his eight three-point attempts. His outside shooting prowess opened up everything else for the Orange.

"When anybody's making threes in bunches, it gives the team that much more energy," Fair said. "It gets us going. It spaces the floor out. It makes the defense have to react differently.

"When he's making threes and Tyler's making threes, it makes the offense that much easier to get going."

The floor opened up, which led to Grant dunks, Ennis layups, and even a Baye Keita dunk as Syracuse overwhelmed the Western Michigan Broncos on their way to a 77-53 victory.

The first half showed how dangerous Syracuse can be when they are clicking. While making more than half of their shots, they assisted on 11 of their 15 made baskets.

The Orange were finding the open man, playing unselfish basketball, showing the balance they had earlier in the season.

That offensive prowess will be important the rest of the way, but it certainly was a welcome reminder of how good the Orange can play on that end of the floor.

Syracuse will look to advance to their third consecutive Sweet-16 against Dayton on Saturday.


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