By no means was Saturday afternoon the usual cheering and celebration for faithful fans of the Syracuse Orange. If anything it was a day where loyal fans turned off all Syracuse basketball push notifications on their electronics.
Syracuse’s 79-59 loss to the Duke University Blue Devils was their second-worst loss of the season, behind their 68-89 November 26th loss to the Auburn Tigers. The Orange were not connecting on much of anything from the field or beyond the arc this afternoon, even with some open looks scattered along the way.
Syracuse shot 35.3% from the field on 24-68 attempts, an abysmal 17.3% from beyond the arc on 5-29 attempted shots, and shot 50% from the charity stripe on 6-12 shot attempts.
To put these numbers into perspective, Syracuse’s 68 attempted shots from the field, is tied with Layfayette (11/09) and Georgetown (12/11) for the team’s third-highest amount of shots attempted this season behind only behind their overtime 77-74 loss to Wake Forest and 112-110 win against Indiana. The five three-pointers Syracuse connected on Saturday afternoon were tied with their VCU and Villanova losses for the fewest amount of three-pointers made for the Orange this entire season.
Syracuse’s 29 attempted threes were also tied with their losses to Virginia and Wake Forest for fourth-most attempted threes in a game this season. The only times where Syracuse attempted more threes in a game this season was against Florida State (12/04), Indiana, and Miami.
The volume Syracuse was shooting the basketball today wasn't necessarily a bad thing, if they would have only made their shots. Through 19 games played so far this season, the Orange have only averaged 60 shots from the field per game on 45.3% from the field. However, the Blue Devils Saturday did a great job forcing the Orange into some bad shot selections in the first half, which could have messed with Syracuse’s psyche later in the game when things still were not going their way.
“They (Duke) were very good defensively and they made us take some hard shots but we had some good open looks in the first half,” said Syracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, in the post-game press conference following Saturday loss. “Went 2 for 16, we have to make some of those shots.”
The biggest takeaway from Boeheim's address to the media following Syracuse’s loss to the Blue Devils was how upfront he was about the fact that his team did not come to play today the way they have against other conference teams they have faced so far this season.
“This was the first game in the league that we just have not been there,” Boeheim said regarding his team's performance Saturday. “Duke is very good but at the end of the day we have to make some of those shots and we just couldn't and that was the difference.”
Saturday’s win marked Duke’s 5th consecutive all-time series win against the Orange, last losing to Syracuse 95-91 at Cameron Arena in overtime on January 14th, 2019. The Blue Devils had a below team average shooting day from the field making only 47.6 percent of their shots on 30-63 attempts compared to their season average of 49.1%.
However, where the Blue Devils lacked in their field goal percentage, they made up for in three-point shooting. Duke shot 37.8 on 14-37 shot attempts, the most attempted three-point shots they had taken in a game all season. Duke’s three-point barrage was led by freshman A.J. Griffen, who finished the game with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block on 5-10 shooting from the field and 5-9 from beyond the arc.
Syracuse’s terrible shooting day was spearheaded by their hometown star, senior Buddy Boeheim, who finished the contest with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block on 2-15 shooting from the field and 1-10 shooting from beyond the arc.
“You know Buddy got to the shots, he's been playing that way all year against big guys,” Boeheim said about his younger son’s poor performance. “He is usually able to get to his spot and wasn't able to, and then when he got some looks he just couldn't make them.”
The rest of Syracuse’s starting five shot 40.5% from the field on 17-42 shot attempts and 25% from three on 5-20 shot attempts to cap off an underwhelming Saturday afternoon. Syracuse’s bench found more action today than usual during the blowout loss, specifically Symir Torrence who played a season-high 25 minutes and collected 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 6 assists on 2-5 shooting.
All in all, this had to have been one of the most painful games to watch for any fans of Syracuse this entire season. Duke bested the Orange in almost every way and completely exposed the 2-3 zone Syracuse is known for in the process. Let's hope Syracuse can bounce back in triumphant fashion against Pittsburgh this Tuesday as fans could use something to cheer about heading into the new month next week.