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Deeper Dive: Controversial Ending Costs Cuse

Breaking down Syracuse's loss at Georgia Tech.

Top Performer: In what Jim Boeheim called his best performance of the year, freshman Taurean Thompson led Syracuse in scoring. More importantly, he had 12 rebounds and three blocks to go with his 18 points. Thompson was Syracuse's best offensive player for most of the game and played strong defense throughout. That end of the floor is key for him. If he plays well, he stays on the floor. He recorded 33 minutes against Georgia Tech. 

Bottom Feeder: Point guard play has been a key for Syracuse all season. Against Georgia Tech, John Gillon was just 2-10 shooting and turned it over five times. Early in the game, he air-balled a jumper. The Yellow Jackets' crowd chanted "air-ball" anytime he touched the ball from that point forward. It seemed to get in his head, and led to missed shots and poor decisions. 

Stat of the Game: Second half shooting. Syracuse was just 12-38 (31.6%) while Georgia Tech was 15-25 (60.0%). Syracuse had a 32-23 lead with 1:17 left in the first half. From there, the Yellow Jackets went on a 37-15 run that proved too much for the Orange to overcome. 

Turning Point: Syracuse was not the beneficiary of the whistle for most of the night. SU was called for five more fouls, and Georgia Tech shot 10 more free-throws. But the worst of the bunch came in the final seconds. After a 10-3 run brought the Orange within just two points in the final minutes, a missed Georgia Tech layup gave Syracuse the ball down by two with 27 seconds left. An opportunity to tie or take the lead with all of the momentum on their side. Roberson came to the top of the key to set a screen for Gillon. An illegal screen was called by the official, and it was the wrong call. Roberson was set, did not move, did not make excess contact. Yet, it was still called.

To make matters worse for Syracuse, the ball screen worked to perfection. Gillon's man had slipped, causing Roberson's defender to step up. Which means Gillon had the chance to drive past a big for a layup, or a dish to a cutting Roberson for a dunk. Either way, Syracuse would have had a two-on-one at the rim. If a help defender came from the weak side, Tyler Lydon would have been wide open for a jumper. Syracuse was in a perfect position for a good look at a tying bucket. It was a bad call, and one that impacted the outcome. 

He Said It: "I just don't think we shot very well. I thought we got pretty good looks. We missed three or four around the basket. Missed some open ones. We didn't shoot well and we've been a good shooting team. We depend on shooting well from the three-point line. When we don't shoot well there that hurts us. I thought John (Gillon) had good looks. I thought Andrew (White) had good looks. The ball didn't go in." - Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.

Five Takeaways:

  1. Syracuse struggles to win when they do not received solid point guard play. As is evidenced by John Gillon's poor night. He must play much better if they are to upset Duke.  
  2. The upside on Taurean Thompson is through the roof. What a game he had against Georgia Tech. Eighteen points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. He has a legit shot to be an All-ACC performer next season with defensive improvement. He can hit jumpers, score in the low post and run the floor. There is nothing he cannot do offensively. With more development within the zone, Thompson could become a star. 
  3. Andrew White needs to break out of his slump. Shooting 4-12 from beyond the arc is not going to cut it. They need him to make more of his open looks. He missed too many against Georgia Tech. 
  4. Tyus Battle is closer to being his old self. He scored 11 points and dished out four assists against Tech. He is critical for Syracuse to pull off an upset against Duke. But Battle looked healthy and was efficient offensively. 
  5. Despite the loss, Syracuse is still in the mix for an NCAA Tournament berth. The game at Georgia Tech was not a must win, because the loss did not cripple their hopes. Sure it made things a bit more difficult, but not impossible. Syracuse must win two of their final three regular season games for an argument, and then win one in the ACC Tournament to seal the deal. 

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