Syracuse (10-6, 0-3 ACC) fell 74-73 to Clemson (9-6, 2-1) at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night, dropping its third consecutive game to begin ACC play in the process. Here are three takeaways:
1. Syracuse can make 3s and still lose
In its previous five losses this season, Syracuse never shot better than 33.3% from beyond the arc. It made 29.2% of its 3s against Wisconsin, 25.9% against Georgetown, 19.2% against St. John's, 33.3% against Pittsburgh and 31.8% against Miami.
There was a strong case to be made that if the Orange had just made a few more 3s in each of those games, they would've won each. Thus, there was speculation that SU wasn't going to lose games this season in which it shot well from 3.
But that theory was mostly disproved against Clemson. The Orange went 13-of-34 from long range, good for 38.2%. They also made 46.2% of their second half 3s. But Syracuse still lost, largely because it missed seven free throws and allowed Clemson to score 40 points in the paint.
2. There will likely be no easy ACC games
Entering Tuesday, kenpom.com gave Syracuse a 78% chance to defeat Clemson. Aside from next week's showdown with Boston College, there isn't a game remaining on SU's schedule in which it is currently given anything better than a 75% chance to win.
And if Tuesday is any sign of things to come, that means the Orange won't be getting any more easy victories this season.
Remember, the Tigers are generally considered to be a bottom tier team in the ACC. Syracuse home upsets aren't unprecedented — a bad Boston College team knocked off the No. 1 Orange in 2014 — but Clemson marked the second of two teams from Power Five conferences to visit SU this season — the other being Wisconsin — and leave with a win.
Neither the Tigers nor the Badgers are particularly good teams, so let this be a lesson that when teams like Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech visit the Carrier Dome later this season, it will be anything but easy for the Orange.
3. Hopkins' head coaching stint ends on sour note
Mike Hopkins served in his role as Syracuse's interim head coach for the final time on Tuesday night, with head coach Jim Boeheim's nine-game suspension now officially having been lifted. Hopkins finished 4-5 in his stint as head coach, with zero wins over teams from major conferences and all five losses coming to teams from major conferences.
Tuesday's loss might have been the toughest to swallow, given that it dropped the Orange to 0-3 in ACC play and made their NCAA Tournament hopes even more unlikely.
The loss was also plagued by what Hopkins called a miscommunication error on Clemson's final offensive possession. With 18 seconds to play and the Orange leading by three points, Hopkins said the plan was to foul the Tigers if the game clock dipped below eight seconds. It did, but Syracuse didn't foul, and Clemson's Gabe DeVoe made a game-tying 3 from the right wing.
Afterward, Syracuse guard Michael Gbinije said there was nothing mentioned during the timeout about fouling. He said he thought the plan was for the Orange to play "straight up" and deny the Tigers from shooting a 3. If SU had fouled in a non-shooting situation, it would have sent a Clemson player to the line without a chance to tie the game on that possession.