The Syracuse Orange (4-2) came away with the huge upset win over the 16th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1) by a score of 72-62. It was close for the most part, but Syracuse’s dormant offense came alive when it mattered most tonight.
We can learn quite a bit from the win and the team’s first game with everyone seemingly at full health (for the most part). But what are the biggest takeaways?
Open shots are there when the Orange drive and kick
The Orange aren’t the most prolific offensive team in the nation, but good things seem to happen when the Syracuse guards drive and kick the ball out to the perimeter. While they’re a better team when they’re shooting around the rim, Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj were able to give the Orange some perimeter help with a few knockdown threes.
Opponents need to send a help defender when Frank Howard and Tyus Battle drive to the paint, so there is typically going to be an open man standing out behind the three-point line. It’s up to the Orange to knock down their own threes, but it’s nice to see a little motion from a team that has been stagnant on offense to start the year. After starting the season terribly from beyond the arc, Syracuse went 11-of-24 (45.8 percent) tonight. Hughes led the way, knocking down 4 of 9 from three.
Defensive rebounds weren’t easy to come by for Syracuse
The Buckeyes were able to get multiple shot attempts by crashing the offensive glass with authority. They had six offensive rebounds in the first half and 11 total, which gave the Buckeyes a big advantage down low.
Syracuse has their fair share of size and athletes on the roster, but they are seen trying to out-jump their opponent on a miss rather than finding a man and boxing him out. Syracuse needs to get easy buckets in transition in order to keep up with high-scoring teams, but they need to focus on securing a rebound first before they begin to think about scoring on the break.
On the game, SU had just 29 rebounds, versus 31 for OSU. Not a great effort against a team they were bigger than on paper.
Elijah Hughes is a game changer
Tyus Battle may have led the game in scoring with 20 points, but it was Hughes’s ability to space the floor that helped Syracuse pull off the upset win. Hughes had 12 of his 18 points come from beyond the arc, as he capitalized off of Battle and Howard’s dribble penetration.
Hughes had a huge and-one finish in transition which helped Syracuse separate themselves from the talented Buckeyes. Battle and Brissett may get the most hype, but it’ll be Hughes who ends up being the X-factor for the Orange this year, as most evidenced by the ability to hit threes and start to extend the Buckeyes’ defense further than we’ve seen from opponents so far this year.