Syracuse Man Defense Shuts Down Mountaineers

The Syracuse Orangemen are noted for their 2-3 zone defense, but an early switch to man to man throttled the Mountaineers and paved the way for a blowout win.

Syracuse's defense made even the simplest pass a struggle for WVU and allowed almost no open shots as the Mountaineers hit just 28% of their tries from the field. The Orangemen switched on every WVU screen, and with a lineup full of athletic players who can defend on the perimeter as well as in the lane, the Mountaineers were unable to generate any of the mismatches that their cutting and screening attack usually produces.

The result was an 89-51 thumping that probably wasn't as close as the final score indicated. WVU was non-competitive for the entire second half, and seemed only too glad to get the game over with.

"We're obviously not at the top of our game," head coach John Beilein said afterward. "I don't have any excuses for that. I thought we did some good thinkgs, but we couldn't make a basket. We made six field goals in the first half."

Beilein's players also should have no excuses, as they played timidly after getting a several first half layups blocked. The Mountaineers failed to challenge Syracuse inside for the remainder of the game, instead choosing to bomb away from far beyond the three point line. That strategy only made the deficit larger, as Syracuse was able to turn many of the long rebounds resulting from those misses into transition scoring opportunities. West Virginia hit just six of their 26 tries from behind the line.

The Orangemen shot 56% from the field in the romp, while WVU had two different stretches of six minutes where they failed to score.

Drew Schifino led WVU with a meager ten points. Kevin Pittsnogle and Josh Yeager added nine each. Carmelo Anthony padded his season stats with 24 points to lead Syracuse.

West Virginia will try to rebound from their three game losing streak on Saturday against Seton Hall on the road. The Pirates have won seven straight, and face Villanova on thursday before hosting the Mountaineers.

"We won't watch much film on this game," Beilein siad. "We need to get ready for Seton Hall. We need to get our kids' dobbers back up a little bit. We'll bounce back."

The Mountaineers have done that before, but the question is, how much gas do they have left in their tanks?

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