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Deeper Dive: Syracuse's Season Ends Against Ole Miss

Breaking down Syracuse's season ending loss to Ole Miss in the NIT.

Top Performer: Freshman Taurean Thompson had a really strong game and appeared to take strides defensively. He led the team with 18 points on 8-11 shooting. He also grabbed eight rebounds, snagged five steals and blocked two shots. Thompson was really, really good offensively and helped limit the Rebels' best player, Sebastian Saiz, to just 4-13 shooting. It was a strong finale for Thompson.  

Bottom Feeder: In just 13 minutes. Tyler Roberson collected just one rebound and only scored two points. He was invisible, for the most part, when on the court. He also turned it over twice with some inexplicable passes that were right to Ole Miss defenders. 

Stat of the Game: Three-point shooting. Syracuse was in this game throughout, but could not get over the hump when they would make a run in the second half. They finished just 8-30 from three-point range despite most of them being wide open looks. Defensively, the Orange continued to allow the Ole Miss shooters to get clean looks at the basket. The Rebels responded by making 15 of their 32 (46.9%) shots from deep. 

Turning Point: Syracuse tied the game at 71 with a little over four minutes remaining. From there, they gave up wide open three-pointers on three of Ole Miss' next four possessions. Syracuse could not keep pace and faltered down the stretch. 

He Said It: “This game was really a microcosm of our season. We fight hard, we battle. When our shots aren't going, we aren't able to stop the other team's shooters. They've got two guys shooting it well. End of the shot clock, twice when we tied the game, we couldn't get up on them and keep them from shooting. You have to stop the guy from shooting. We never got out of the mentality that you have in high school where you hope they miss. You have to get up and you have to guard the shooters and we haven't done that all year." - Head coach Jim Boeheim

Five Takeaways:

  1. The future is bright for both freshmen Tyus Battle and Taurean Thompson. Both showed off their skill set in this game. Do they have areas where they can improve? No question. But with development in the offseason, that is a solid one-two punch going into next season. 
  2. The defensive issues this team has had all season were magnified against the Rebels. They simply would not identify the outside shooters and provided too many open looks at critical times. Does that mean the zone does not work anymore? No. It means, like any defense, when it is not executed properly it does not work.  
  3. It was nice to see Tyler Lydon show some aggression in the first half. He took a lot of shots, and even though he struggled to make them consistently, it really helped the rest of the team. He had 14 points and 9 rebounds at halftime. The problem is, in the second half, he disappeared offensively and scored just one point after halftime. 
  4. Frank Howard had a much better game than his stats would suggest. He ran the offense well, got into the lane, and made plays. He did have those one or two boneheaded turnovers, but it was still an encouraging performance. Remember, he is just a sophomore who really did not play a lot as a freshman. Expect him to be the starting point guard next season. 
  5. On to next season. Will it be Boeheim's last? While there is some skepticism there, that is the current plan. There is a nice foundation of talent with Battle, Thompson, Moyer, Howard and Chukwu. Then the incoming freshmen will add depth as well. Boeheim added Syracuse is likely to look to add at least one more player to the mix. They may need a grad transfer as well to round things out. 

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