Syracuse fans all over the country will be holding their breath the next few days after the Orange’s latest loss to Miami 62-57 in the second round of the ACC tournament
It was a back and forth game to start, and both teams seemed to be on a roll offensively. Syracuse (18-14) was mostly lead by the scoring from graduate transfer guard/forward Andrew White, who finished the contest with 22 points. Miami (21-10) was led by senior forward and Brooklyn native Kamari Murphy, who finished the game with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Miami shot 61% from the field in the first half, which was a problem for Syracuse.
“Miami is a terrific team and I thought the first half they shot the ball extremely well,” head coach Jim Boeheim said.
Andrew White carried over his hot shooting from the Georgia Tech game to the Barclays center against Miami. White continued to be the Orange’s main producer on offense throughout the game, and did so in many different ways. He was efficient in the catch and shoot role, while also creating his own shot by using his patent step back jumper. White also made it count when heading to the free throw line, going 9-10 from the charity stripe.
“I think this team has figured out how to win,” White said. “I think we’ve picked up our intensity and done everything we could to put us in a position to be considered for the postseason.”
The Orange trailed 36-31 at halftime, and were in contention without Jon Gillon contributing any points in the first half. The Orange started the second half on a 10-4 run, and took the lead 41-40 after a Tyus Battle three. Miami fought back however, and the Hurricanes were able to stretch the floor and hit crucial shots, including back to back three pointers by guard Dejan Vasiljevic midway through the second half. Miami never looked back on a 43-41 lead, and used Syracuse’s zone defense to their advantage, finding open spots and mismatches. The Orange continued to battle back, but just did not have enough in the tank to finish the comeback.
“Second half we were more aggressive,” Boeheim said. “Down the stretch, we missed two and they made two and that was the difference in the game.”
The Orange had trouble finding scoring opportunities for two of their main offensive weapons, Tyler Lydon and Jon Gillon. Lydon was limited to 5 points on 2-7 shooting while Gillon had 8 points on 3-9 shooting. Gillon often struggled getting the basket and making Miami defenders pay, a key aspect of his game. Lydon was efficient on the boards, snagging 12 rebounds, but just seemed unconnected on the offensive side of the ball. When the Orange have Lydon, Battle, Gillon, and White hitting on all cylinders, this is a team that could absolutely cause problems and bust brackets in the NCAA tournament.
The Orange will now have to sit back and wait until Selection Sunday on March 12 to see what their future holds. While this was a tough loss for Syracuse, it certainly does not pop their bubble. Fans can only hope this loss will give Jim Boeheim and company more of that underdog mentality that guided them to a final four appearance last spring.