The Syracuse Orange had an 11-point lead against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half of the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. However, a slow end to the first half and an equally slow start to the second half kept the Cavaliers within striking distance of the Orange. Seven ties and five lead changes occurred during the game, and Virginia held the ball for the last possession tied at 69. Reece Beekman found himself open for three and scored his first points of the game at the buzzer to win the game for Virginia and send Syracuse home.
Here’s our three takeaways from a tough loss:
Where did the passing go?
We asked Syracuse to pass the ball to beat Virginia’s defense, and that’s exactly how the Orange grew it’s initial lead against the Cavaliers. Syracuse assisted on 10 of its 13 made field goals in the first half and the offense looked like it had a natural flow. However, towards the end of the first half, the Orange reverted back to more isolation ball as the shots started falling. The second half numbers were worse as the Orange only shot 40.7% from the floor with six assists on 11 field goals. The offense just started to stagnate towards the end of the first half and didn’t seem to consistently flow afterwards. That allowed Virginia to get back into the game as Syracuse stopped hitting shots and returned to isolation ball.
South Carolina’s finest
I know we talk a lot about Robert Braswell on social media, but he played an integral role in keeping Syracuse in the game. His 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the first half gave Syracuse a huge spark. More importantly, his defense on Sam Hauser and Trey Murphy limited their effectiveness in the first half. Braswell’s defense has always been spectacular this season, but his offensive contributions against the Cavaliers contributed to the first half Orange lead. Jim Boeheim said after the game that if Braswell hits his shots, he and Quincy Guerrier become Syracuse’s best forwards. Braswell proved that point against Virginia.
Eyes on Sunday
With a win against Virginia, Syracuse would’ve secured a spot in the tournament according to most bracketologists. According to Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket, Syracuse is still the last team in the tournament, but multiple teams could win today to pass the Orange. Along a similar note, there are projected teams in the field that could easily lose to further cement Syracuse’s place in the tournament.
A tradition unlike any other: Syracuse sweating on Selection Sunday. We’re right back at it again.