Syracuse won a third consecutive game Monday night, topping Duke 64-62 inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. That left Orange head coach Jim Boeheim in a considerably pleasant mood.
Here are three notable things the coach said in his postgame press conference:
Defense is shifting SU's fortunes
Syracuse held Duke to just a 37.1% shooting clip from the field, including 27% from beyond the 3-point arc. It marked a third straight game — the previous two were against Boston College and Wake Forest — in which the Orange held their opponent below 38% shooting.
"That's the difference between where we're out now and where we were prior to those three games," said Boeheim of the Orange, who started 0-4 in ACC play but are now 3-4.
Boeheim was particularly happy with the Orange's defense on the 3-point line. SU now ranks 11th in the country, per kenpom.com, in defending the 3-point shot.
Syracuse's defensive performance Monday night was especially impressive, given Duke's offensive potency. The Blue Devils rank fourth in the country in kenpom.com's adjusted offensive efficiency metric, which is measured based on points per possession.
"To hold them to the numbers we did tonight, it was just a tremendous defensive effort," Boeheim said.
Singing the praises of Gbinije
In a third return to his former school, Michael Gbinije had his best and most memorable performance yet at Cameron Indoor Stadium, coming out on the winning end for the first time.
He was one of four Syracuse players to score 14 points, but he needed the fewest field goal attempts — 11 — to do it. And he even when he wasn't scoring, he was making plays for others; Gbinije finished the night with a game- and season-high nine assists.
"It was great," Boeheim said. "I can't tell you how good he was tonight."
Boeheim pointed out that Gbinije played so well despite hardly getting a rest, as the point guard played 38 minutes. That's something that Boeheim said is more taxing on a point guard, who has to constantly drive and create.
And on Monday night, Syracuse needed every last minute Gbinije could supply.
Syracuse's offensive rebounding: "Unheard of"
For the fourth straight game, Syracuse won the rebounding battle on Monday, as the Orange grabbed 49 rebounds to the Blue Devils' 42.
And for the fourth straight game, that was largely because SU dominated on the offensive glass, where, statistically, it is now almost as good as it is bad on the defensive glass. Syracuse has grabbed 35.1% of possible rebounds on the offensive end this season, compared to allowing opponents to grab 35.6% of their potential offensive rebounds — indicating that Syracuse's defensive rebounding troubles are a product of playing zone.
On Monday, the Orange grabbed 26 offensive rebounds, which easily marked a season-high. Tyler Roberson had 12 offensive rebounds, which tied a single-game Syracuse record, and fellow forward Tyler Lydon had six of his own.
"Roberson and Lydon just did an unbelievable job on the offensive glass," Boeheim said. "... 26 offensive rebounds against a pretty good team is unheard of."