For the Syracuse Orange, Saturday’s performance against the Boston College Eagles (9-9, 2-3) was much improved from the first matchup of the season, in which the Eagles won by 15 points.
Syracuse’s 2-3 zone forced 15 first-half turnovers, and scored 14 points off of those turnovers. In the first matchup, the Eagles committed just 13 turnovers.
The Eagles shot 4-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half, and trailed by 12 points at the break.
"Our defense is good, that's the difference,” Jim Boeheim told Matt Park at halftime.
Good indeed, Jim.
In the first matchup this season against Boston College, the Eagles went 6-of-12 from deep in the first half, and went on to hit 10 second-half 3’s. That tied a record for most 3-pointers given up by Syracuse in a single game (16).
Ky Bowman went for 30 points — just three off of his career-high on January 1. On Saturday, he was held to three points — all of which came in the first half.
It was clear from the opening tip that Syracuse had a higher defensive energy. The Orange wasn’t going to be embarrassed twice in one season by a team that went winless in the ACC last season.
The guards defended the high post better than it has, which forced confusion for BC offensively. The guards also got out on shooters on Saturday, which was a major difference from the first matchup. Syracuse was hitting on all cylinders.
Boston College finished with 20 turnovers on the day, which led to 20 points for the Orange.
After shooting over 60 percent from deep in the first matchup, the Orange held Boston College to just 8-of-22 (36 percent) from 3-point range.
As I wrote earlier this week, Boston College hit its ceiling against Syracuse in the first matchup. Saturday was proof. The Eagles had just one player find double-figures on Saturday -- Nik Popovic finished with 13 points. No BC player hit more than two 3-pointers.
Andrew White and Tyus Battle each recorded three steals, while Tyler Lydon had a team-high two blocks.
The Orange got back in the win column, 76-53, and improved to 11-7 (3-2) on the season. SU travels to North Carolina for a matchup with the 16-3 Tar Heels on Monday (7 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN).