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Syracuse 74, Georgetown 69: Orange outlast Hoyas

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All it took was a sacrificial tooth to get an Orange win.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Haven’t we been here before?

The Syracuse Orange had a sizable lead against the Georgetown Hoyas at halftime. However, the Orange went cold from the floor with questionable shot selection in the second half. That allowed the Hoyas to cut the deficit to as low as three. But Syracuse made enough clutch shots down the stretch to secure a 74-69 win over Georgetown.

Before the game tipped off, the Orange started on the back foot after it was revealed that Bourama Sidibe wouldn’t play for the eighth straight game. The Syracuse center hasn’t played since SU’s season opener in November against Bryant, where he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee during that game. His lack of presence meant that Georgetown could dominate the paint with its big frontcourt.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Qudus Wahab in particular looked primed for a big game. The 6-foot-11, 237-pound center easily overpowered every Syracuse player that entered the paint on both sides of the court. The Orange’s offensive game plan shifted to mid-range jumpers and threes without much of a focus on attacking the basket.

The focus on jump shots meant that the offensive influence for both teams was neutered. Both teams were shooting under 40% from the field and under 23% from three after 12 minutes of game time. Syracuse struggled with inconsistency from its jump shots while Georgetown struggled to hit kick-out shots after the ball got in the middle of the zone at the high post.

However, after Wahab picked up a second foul with 6:19 left in the 1st, the game opened up for the Orange. Syracuse freely moved the ball around the half-court on offense and paid less attention to the area underneath the rim on defense, which allowed the Orange to open up a lead.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

A refocused attack to the rim meant that Syracuse entered the halftime break with a 43-30 lead. The Orange took more high-percentage shots towards the end of the half to help extend their advantage. Rebounding was also a key factor in Syracuse’s lead, with the Orange holding a 23-11 advantage on the boards at the half.

The Orange returned to its ranged attack in the second half with Wahab back in the game. SU’s field goal percentage suffered as a result and the Orange zone started to get lazy with its rotations. As a result, the Hoyas clawed back into the game, cutting the Syracuse lead to single digits with under 12 minutes left to play.

A small spark came from Robert Braswell, who continues to make his case for more playing time. His three steals and block allowed Syracuse to score crucial points to stall Georgetown momentum that was building. The Hoyas used the full-court press to tempt the Orange into fast, low-percentage shots, which kept the visitors in the game.

Quietly, Buddy Boeheim did a lot to keep Syracuse just ahead of the Hoyas. He was much more active inside the arc with improved confidence away from the three-point line. The junior led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 6-for-12 on two-point shots.

The clutch factor kicked in for Syracuse down the stretch with Boeheim and Joe Girard hitting big threes towards the end of the game. While the Orange struggled from the floor in the second half, Syracuse did hit four of its nine threes to just stay in front of Georgetown. Eight Hoyas turnovers in the second half also contributed to Georgetown’s demise.

Once again, it was a tale of two halves as the Orange took smart shots to take a lead and took questionable shots to almost give up said lead. Syracuse perhaps got lucky today against Georgetown, but the Orange cannot afford to let bad shot selection persist in the second half.

On the bright side, Marek Dolezaj is now your favorite hockey player.