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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 79-69 loss to Rutgers

Someone find Rakeem Christmas and see if he has any eligibility left

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Rutgers Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

On the bright side, the last time that Syracuse lost to Rutgers, the Orange won the national championship.

There’s probably quite a few words that you could use to describe the Syracuse Orange’s 79-69 loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Frustrating is probably the word that I would use as there were some moments in the game where Syracuse seemingly had righted the ship. However, there were many confusing moments that allowed Rutgers to pull away from the Orange to take the victory. Here’s three takeaways from Syracuse’s first loss of the season:

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Rutgers Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Bourama Sidibe would be really nice to have right now

Sometimes it’s not until a player is gone or out for a period of time do you realize how much they mean to their team. While Buddy Boeheim’s presence would be helpful on offense, I think Sidibe is the more important missing cog on Syracuse’s team. He affects the play and the paint on both sides of the ball.

This is the first game that Syracuse really miss Sidibe’s presence in the paint. Rutgers out-rebounded 42 to 26. The Scarlet Knights also grabbed 13 offensive boards to Syracuse’s seven. The Orange need Sidibe to not only secure boards on both sides of the ball, but to establish some big presence around the rim on offense.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Rutgers Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse’s shot selection needs major work

Some of the threes that Syracuse decided to chuck up were not the best. Whether it be early in the shot clock, heavily contested, or from well beyond the arc, the threes that the Orange chucked were not smart. Most of those shots were also straight-up shoots and not ones created with off-ball movement or passing.

There were only a handful of uncontested threes that the Orange decided to take, and even some of those didn’t fall. In the end, Syracuse only shot 7-of-26 from range. That’s 26.9%. When you decide to take just under 45% of your shots from three, you have to sink more of them. If not, you have to be smart about how you take them and when you take them. Syracuse clawed back into the game with good shot creation and shot selection inside the arc during the second half. It’s shot selection from range is what ultimately led to SU’s downfall in the latter half of the game.

This season’s broken record is going to be Syracuse’s perimeter defense

Rutgers came into this game shooting 29.3% from three. The Scarlet Knights only took 41 shots from range in their three games this season. That would seem to indicate that Rutgers wouldn’t be too trigger happy with the long ball. However, the Orange defenders in the zone have been incredibly sloppy with their rotations, which led to far too many uncontested threes that Rutgers could not pass up. The Scarlet Knights took 24 threes and hit on nine of them for a 37.5 percentage.

What this game goes to show is that it doesn’t matter if Syracuse’s opponent don’t launch too many balls from beyond the arc. Orange defenders are routinely leaving guys open on the perimeter and eventually those shots are going to fall. The last thing Syracuse needs is for opponents to find a free invitation to gain free points.