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Deeper Dive: NIT Opening Win

Breaking down Syracuse's 90-77 NIT win over UNC Greensboro.

Top Performer: Andrew White continued where he left off during his previous game in the Carrier Dome. That was a 40-point senior night performance where he was 8-9 from three-point range. This was a 34-point outing where he shot 7-9 from deep. White had everything working. He hit open jumpers, created mid-range shots and even drove with success. 

Bottom Feeder: John Gillon finished the game without taking a shot and had four turnovers in 28 minutes of action. Head coach Jim Boeheim called it one of his worst games of the season. Gillon never seemed to get into a rhythm. 

Stat of the Game: Three-point shooting. Syracuse was 9-21 (42.9%) from distance. Greensboro was just 7-29 (24.1%) from the outside. To put it another way, the Spartans missed more three-pointers than Syracuse attempted. Of course, White's 7-9 helped their percentage quite a bit. The Orange were just 2-12 other than him. 

Turning Point: Holding a 10 point lead at the half, Syracuse opened the second half with a 12-2 run to push the lead to 20. While Greensboro did cut the lead down to single digits late, the large deficit was too much to overcome. That early second half run allowed the Orange to take control of the game. 

He Said It: “I don’t think the four foul rule is a good rule at all. If you get five, but you don’t get the fifth one just after (the) 10 (minute mark) – now they get five more, so you don’t get a free-throw for 10 fouls. So if you’ve got them in some foul trouble within the fifth one of 10 minutes, you’d be shooting free throws. Now it punishes you because there’s no more free-throws. I think it’s a horrible rule, I don’t know where it came from or why. It makes no sense. It’s hard to get more than four, but you might get around four within eight or 10 minutes but usually you get a couple more and then the seventh one usually comes. Now you get one-and-ones for six minutes. It could work out that you might not get a two-shot foul. I don’t like it at all but we’ll see how it does.” - Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim on an experimental rule being used in the NIT.

Five Takeaways:

  1. Very true that point guard play was not great against UNC-Greensboro. That said, Frank Howard had some solid moments in this one. He got some deflections that created turnovers. He made an open three-pointer. Howard made some very nice passes to set up teammates. He finished with four assists to just one turnover. It could have been better, but this should be viewed as a positive sign. 
  2. Tyus Battle had another strong performance, scoring at least 20 points for the fourth time in the last six games in which he has been healthy. Battle was unguardable attacking the rim. When he got in the lane, not only did he finish 6-9 inside the arc, but he made plays by finding teammates to the tune of four assists. He has unreal talent. 
  3. Another double-double for sophomore Tyler Lydon. Yes he can still be more aggressive offensively and yes he had a few defensive lapses. But overall, you can't ask for much more than 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. The 3-9 shooting was the problem. Not only with the low percentage but the number of shots taken. He should be hitting double figures every night. The good thing about Lydon is that even when he does not do that, he impacts the game in other ways. He even dished out four assists in this one. 
  4. Syracuse actually got some quality minutes from their bench in this one. Tyler Roberson contributed four points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. Howard added three points and four assists. 
  5. It would have been very easy for this team to come into the NIT with their heads sulking and not showing any desire to be on the floor. Instead, they played hard and got a win. The team's goal is to win their postseason tournament. If they continue to play with intensity, they've got a real shot. Next up is Ole Miss who has some quality players. The Rebels beat common opponent South Carolina by five at home, while losing to them by 11 on the road. It should be a fun game on Saturday inside the Carrier Dome. Two power five teams going at it. 

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