The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team lost on the road at Duke on Monday night by a final score of 85-71. The game was never close as Duke blitzed Syracuse out of the gate by dissecting the 2-3 zone, which continues to be an area of concern for this team.
The loss was a hit to Syracuse’s tournament hopes as the bracketology cognoscenti considered the Orange to be just outside of the bubble prior to tip-off.
Syracuse fell down by as much as 24 in the second half as Jim Boeheim turned to the press. It yielded some minor success right away, but ultimately the game got away from SU down the stretch as the team dug too deep of a hole to climb out of in the first half as Duke shot 10-18 from beyond the arc.
To the takeaways...
Syracuse needs a minor miracle
Syracuse fans won’t want to hear about NCAA Tournament talk after a loss like that, but it’s not entirely over yet. It’s true that the Orange fell to 2-6 in road games this year. Syracuse is also 0-0 in neutral site games games. That means Syracuse hasn’t proven it can win away from the dome despite its sound 11-1 record at home.
We don’t know who Syracuse will be able to schedule the week prior to the ACC Tournament, so Syracuse faces a must-win scenario at Georgia Tech. North Carolina and whoever else can join the schedule are likely must-wins as well. That, and the Orange are going to need to win at least a game or two in the conference tournament to have a chance at the big dance.
The one consideration in the sport of college basketball is that teams are never truly out of it until they lose in the conference tournament, assuming the automatic bids are still given the conference tournament winners this year. TBD on what the ACC will do with its automatic bid but it would be somewhat surprising to see the bid given to the regular season winner.
TL;DR: It doesn’t look good, but Syracuse isn’t entirely out of the fight just yet.
Orange press ran out of juice
Syracuse turned to the press after the first media timeout of the second half. The Orange experienced some success and trimmed Duke’s lead down to 14 on two occasions mostly thanks to Kadary Richmond and a few made 3s by Buddy Boeheim. But that was as close as they got.
The press quickly lost steam as Syracuse looked gassed. Duke broke the pressure without much resistance down the stretch. The press worked well against Notre Dame but where the Irish failed to execute in the half-court (once they broke the pressure), the Blue Devils took advantage. Duke got open 3s and dunks at the rim when breaking the pressure. That was the difference.
Kadary Richmond continues to shine
One of the very few positives to come out of this game for Syracuse was the play of freshman guard Richmond. The frosh came into the game and scored right away off the bench.
He gets by his defender with quick hesitation moves and in-and-out dribbles. He finds angles to the rim and scores around the tin using either hand with craft. Richmond even connected on a triple. Toward the end of the half he finished with a diving lefty finish on the right hand side after shaking his defender on an in-and-out dribble. His 13 first-half point prevented the game from turning into a total blowout.
Richmond started the second half in place of Joe Girard at the point. He cooled off on the offensive end in the second but he finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.