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Deeper Dive: Miami Tops 'Cuse

Breaking down Syracuse's 62-57 loss to Miami in the ACC Tournament.

Top Performer: Andrew White was one of the main reasons the Orange were able to stay afloat during their matchup against Miami. White finished with 22 points and 5 rebounds, while also shooting a near perfect 9-10 from the free throw line. White was able to do a plethora of things on the offensive end, whether it was spotting up for jumpers or digging into the paint, he found ways to keep Syracuse in the game. He used his height to his advantage, hitting several shots while being contested by a defender and overpowering smaller guards defensively.  

Bottom Feeder: Tyler Lydon and John Gillon both did not have the games they were expecting against Miami, but Gillon’s absence stood out much more. Gillon finished with 8 points and 2 assists, while shooting 3-9 from the field. Gillon mostly struggled in the first half, where he didn’t record a basket. Gillon was not able to bully opposing bigs with his upper body strength as usual, and just couldn’t get a shooting streak going from beyond the arc. At times, it looked like Gillon was forcing plays on offense, and wasn’t letting the ball find its way to him. Gillon will most certainly make up for his poor play against Miami in the NCAA tournament, but this was a head-scratching game from him overall. 

Stat of the Game: Miami shot 39% from three, while also shooting 61% from the field in the first half. This was continually a problem for the Orange, as the Hurricanes punished the zone by moving the ball quickly and making the defenders shift up, leaving the paint open for Kamari Murphy to wreak havoc. By shooting effectively from three, Miami had the full package on offense, killing the Orange internally and externally, while also maintaining an advantage on the boards. 

Turning Point: If the Orange had won, the turning would most certainly be the Tyus Battle three that gave Syracuse a 41-40 lead midway through the second half. However, Miami answered back with their own three from Dejan Vasiljevic, and the Hurricanes never looked back from that lead. Vasiljevic would go on to hit another three to extend the Miami lead to 46-41 with 10:44 left in the second half, and those buckets looked like knockout punches to halt what seemed to look like another Syracuse comeback victory and a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament.  

He Said It: “The facts and the case I’m not going to state because that’s up to the committee,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “The facts and the case last year was that we had 3 good wins against Texas A&M, Connecticut, and Duke, and we have better wins this year than we did last year.” 

Five Takeaways:

  1. It was great to see Andrew White humming on offensive and the go-to scorer for the Orange. If White could can his offensive flow going in the NCAA tournament, that will only open up more scoring opportunities for Lydon and Gillon. White provides the uncanny ability of getting to the rim while also stretching the floor and consistently hitting outside shots. 
  2. Although it looked like Andrew White carried the Orange throughout the entire game, freshman Tyus Battle also showed flashes of brilliance. Battle finished with 14 points along with shooting 3-6 from three. Battle is an above average ball handler and uses his longer arms to rise above the defender to get an open look. Battle always seems to have 2-3 minute segments in a game where he is just unstoppable offensively, hitting tough fadaway 15 footers and gliding to the rim for what seems to be forever, finishing with an electrifying slam dunk. He will be the X-factor as the Orange go forward.  
  3. Taurean Thompson got the start, but only logged 18 minutes and was barely used in the second half, as Jim Boeheim gravitated towards senior Tyler Roberson instead. Thompson seemed to be rolling early in the game as he had 6 quick points, bailing out the Orange on a couple late shot clock buckets. However, Boeheim was looking for more of a defensive presence, and in came Roberson, who held his own but did not largely outplay Thompson. It will be interesting going forward to see how Boeheim utilizes his two big men on both sides of the ball.   
  4. The Syracuse defense had its hands full for much of the contest, and Kamari Murphy was the benefactor. Murphy killed the Orange down low, catching alley-oops and hitting jump shots, he continually exploited the interior of the 2-3 zone. Many times, Tyus Battle would have to shift over to guard Murphy, and many times that matchup did not end up well for Syracuse, as Murphy would bully his way to the hoop and finish. The Orange also gave up 9 offensive rebounds, 5 of them to Murphy. 
  5. That loss was a tough pill to swallow for the Orange, as their fate is now in the hands of the tournament committee, who will have to decide if Syracuse’s resume makes the cut for the 68-team tournament. The Orange bolster a strong case over many other bubble teams, including wins against top-50 teams and strength of schedule. 

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