Oh man, was that frustrating. The Syracuse Orange faced the North Carolina State Wolfpack on Saturday night, and all I could think of was, "Pittsburgh hangover?"
You saw what I saw, so I won't make you relive it here. However, some stats jumped off the page, and it's my job to bring them to your attention. So, have a look at the significant figures from the game to see how the Orange squeaked it out again, by the numbers:
Game PPP: .93
Season Average: 1.16
Syracuse had its fewest points per possession of the entire season so far. Its next lowest output was .97, which happened in the UNC game. These are also the only two times this year that Syracuse has failed to hit the 1.0 PPP mark in a game. Ugh.
Game Assist%: 47.4%
Season Average: 51.9%
Such a complete 180-degree flip from the Pittsburgh game. If you recall, I thought this stat had a lot to do with team chemistry. And while I still believe that, this lower number has less to do with a lack of chemistry during this one game, and more to do with an utterly offensive offense. (Yes, that's what I meant to say.) If you're missing all of your shots, this number just won't be good. Ever.
Game Block%: 16.1%
Season Average: 10%
Rakeem Christmas Syracuse blocked an incredible percentage of NC State's shot attempts, which made a huge difference in a game that was so troubling offensively. Too bad he refused to talk about himself after the game; it would have been nice to hear his take on why things just clicked for him.
Game: 14 pts, 12 rebs, 7 blocks, 6 FTA (100%)
Season: 5.6 pts, 4.4 rebs, 1.7 blocks, 1.6 FTA (68.4%)
His amazing game has been discussed already, so there's no need to belabor the point. But it was necessary to give credit where credit was due, by showing a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of Saturday's game to his season averages.
C.J. Fair Blocks
On a day when Syracuse needed something, anything, from its stars, Fair still produced. It may not have been on offense where everyone is used to seeing it, but he prevented four of NC State's points from getting on the board, and that was crucial.
Jerami Grant Rebounds
Perchance competing against bigger guys during sporadic minutes at center over the past few games has shown Grant that he has a little more umph in him. No doubt he's had to push a little harder in order to hold his own at the five spot. Maybe once he realized that, and saw what he's capable of, competing in his true position got a little easier.
There's been a lot of worrying going on about this Syracuse team lately. Look, the stretch of games they're currently in appeared to be the hardest part of the schedule when it first came out many months ago, and that's exactly what it's turning out to be.
Not only that, but every team hits a rough patch during the season. Last year, the Orange lost three straight, and four out of five between late February/early March, but they ended up getting their collective $*#! together in time for a Final Four run. Fret not, kids.
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