The Miami defense was practically impenetrable inside the arc and the Syracuse shooters needed to counter it.
To do so, the Orange needed to be nearly perfect from long-range; only five of SU’s 44 shots were made at the rim. The rest were mid- to long-range jumpers.
But, by the time every minute of the game was played, Syracuse was just 7-21 from behind the arc.
Andrew White III and Tyler Lydon had just one, John Gillon shot two and Tyus Battle had the greatest with three. A 33 three-point percentage was just not going to cut it against the Hurricanes’ strong defensive outing.
And it didn’t, as the Orange fell to the Hurricanes 62-57 in the first round of the ACC Championship Tournament.
To Syracuse’s credit, many of their made-threes were contested jumpers. But, on the other side, Miami was well-guarded in their attempts from far, too.
The difference: DJ Vasiljevic and Davon Reed had three apiece and a three other ‘Canes landed long shots. A few of Vasiljevic’s and Reed’s baskets were made from Steph Curry distance—tough shots—but they added a vital points to the scoreboard. Overall, the Canes were 9-23 from far. Those shots, combined with the defense, were the difference maker.
With that said, the seven Syracuse three-pointers did make up a good chunk of SU’s total baskets, having made just 19 total from the field. The last time Syracuse scored less than 20 baskets in a game, the team was playing UCONN back in the midst of that rough December. That stat can be traced back to the Miami shield that played strong within the paint. Gillon, as an example, was unable to successfully drive to the basket until there were seven minutes left of the game—his second of just three total baskets.
Syracuse attempted just 44 shots, which is tied for their second lowest number of the season. The team attempted 42 against Virginia back in early February but made 23 (54.8 percent) of them. That was the one of SU’s three victories against top-10 teams in the regular season.
Conversely, Miami took 51 shots or seven more than Syracuse. A big reason why? Rebounding. Syracuse lost the battle of the boards 31-26. Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga said they focused on keeping the Orange off of the offensive glass. That worked as SU managed only four such second chance opportunities, but did not score on any of them.
Miami grabbed nine offensive rebounds. They outscored Syracuse 6-0 in second chance points in a five point victoiry.
On average, the Orange attempt just over 23 three-pointers a game. So, the 21 attempts today may be around average, but the way the game was unfolding (i.e. the strength of the Miami defense) this stat needed to be on the higher end of the spectrum and the team obviously needed to make more than just seven to pull off the victory.
In a game where Syracuse lost by five points, Miami made two more from distance than the Orange, accounting for a six point advantage.
Instead, the Orange head back to ‘Cuse without the automatic bid that the victors of the ACC Tourney are awarded—something that could have come in handy when the NCAA selection show airs this Sunday, March 12. It’s now in the hands of the committee to decide whether Madness is in the future for Syracuse or not.