The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team handled the Cornell Big Red by a final score of 80-68 inside the Carrier Dome. The Orange jumped out to a 16-point first half lead but allowed Cornell to get hot from range to close the gap by the half, holding on to a 34-29 lead.
For the second time this week, Syracuse came out hot following the intermission and eventually jumped out to a 19-point lead. But unlike the Brown game earlier in the week, the Orange failed to put Cornell away as the Syracuse bench allowed the game to be cut to single digits late, resulting in the starters having to be reinserted to the game with two minutes left.
Syracuse closed out the game with the starters back in, but there are still plenty of things this basketball team needs to work on with ACC portion of the schedule set to begin in earnest on Saturday.
Here are our takeaways:
Ball security needs work
Syracuse has struggled when teams have showed pressure this season, particularly in that VCU loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Cornell showed its full court press at various points throughout the game and Syracuse was loose with the ball, which resulted in 16 turnovers — 11 of those came in the first half.
Syracuse was able to offset that by forcing 21 Cornell turnovers, but the team will have to do a better job handling the full court press and when teams show pressure in the half court. That’s too many missed opportunities for a team that plays offense well. The defense isn’t good enough to allow for empty offensive possessions.
All (other) systems go for the Syracuse offense
Other than the turnovers, the Syracuse offense has been efficient all season and that was no different on Wednesday night. The Boeheim brothers carried the weight of the offense in the first half as Jimmy worked inside and Buddy worked outside as the dyad combined for 23 first half points. They finished with 38 for the game, almost half of Syracuse’s total.
Cole Swider stepped up in the second half with 16 points for 21 on the game and Jesse Edwards (who could use more post touches if we’re being honest) scored 11 points for his eighth double-digit scoring effort of the season.
Syracuse finished the game shooting 56.1% from the floor, yet a modest 6-20 from range. The difference in this game was inside as Syracuse held a 40-14 edge in points in the paint.
All this to say, Syracuse will have the unenviable task of trying to win games with its offense this season. That’s usually a little harder to do than relying on your defense.
3-point defense and rebounding remain an issue
Syracuse allows more 3-point attempts per total field goals attempted than any other team in college basketball. In other words, teams are taking a higher percentage of 3s against Syracuse’s defense than any other — over half of other teams’ shots against Syracuse come from deep. Now, some of that has to do with Syracuse playing zone but it’s also because Syracuse isn’t a good defensive team.
That was the case against Cornell as the Big Red took 46 of its 65 shots from beyond the arc and made 15 of them. The percentage is fair (32.6%), but the amount of 3s is a little jarring.
Syracuse has to do a better job of locating personnel on the perimeter. Keller Boothby leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and Syracuse allowed him to get 11 shots from outside (he made five).
That, and Syracuse was out-rebounded 37-34. We could be talking about that all season.