CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell to the Miami Hurricanes after surrendering a 14-point first half lead on the road. The Orange had a season-high 19 turnovers against Miami’s pressure defense.
Syracuse has struggled when teams have picked up full-court and increased pressure in the half-court. The Orange eclipsed its previous high for turnovers this season, 16 against both VCU and Cornell — the former pressured the whole game while the latter mixed in press sporadically.
Against Miami, the Orange led by as many as 18 with less than a minute left in the first half, but back-to-back turnovers cut the lead to just 14 by the intermission.
“Defensively we came out very aggressive trapping the ball and trying to force some mistakes. That got us a nice little run to start the half. We were down 14 and we cut it right away. It became a three point game the rest of the way,” Jim Larranaga said after the game.
After Syracuse built its largest lead of the night at 18, the back-to-back turnovers before the half marked the start of a 24-4 Miami run. The Hurricanes reclaimed the lead just five minutes into the second half. The Orange had five turnovers in that span.
“The game turned all because of turnovers,” Jim Boeheim said following the loss. “We didn’t take care of the ball, even in the half-court. Not just full-court. It was really more half-court. I think they had 25 points off turnovers. You can’t do that on the road.”
As a team, everyone contributed in the turnover column. Jesse Edwards had an outstanding night for Syracuse with career-bests in points (22) and blocks (7), but he also had six turnovers — although not all of those were on him. Buddy Boeheim had four. Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim each had three. Syracuse’s point guards, Joe Girard and Symir Torrence, each had one.
“We had 19 turnovers,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “I think most of them were in the second half. They had 25 points off turnovers so I mean that’s your answer right there. We’ve got to do a better job handling that pressure. We’re going to see it all year.”
To combat the pressure, Jim Boeheim tried to go with a three-guard look in the second half with Girard, Buddy and Symir Torrence. Boeheim said it helps Syracuse a little bit, but it really boils down to not being careless with the ball.
“We shouldn’t have trouble with it. We just made careless mistakes. We made some really careless mistakes with the ball and you can’t do that,” He said.
Joe Girard mentioned that Syracuse is trying to get in the middle of the floor when teams pressure, they just need to do a better job executing. He thinks the three guard look helps relieve some of that pressure as the guards can handle the ball.
“It does a lot for not only me but Buddy and even the big guys” Girard said. “It helps us be in control the ball and not have them come up as far, just be able to handle it and get it up ourselves.”
The other side of the coin leaves Syracuse in a conundrum on the defensive end of the floor as one of Cole Swider or Jimmy Boeheim is forced to sit in favor of Torrence as third guard.
“He’s so quick. He will definitely help with the traps and pressure,” Jesse Edwards said of Torrence. “He will help us get it over half court and set it up. I think it helps for sure. Obviously we have one forward less so in the zone it would be a little different.”
It would be unsurprising for teams to start showing Syracuse more defensive pressure throughout ACC play. The Orange have actually been more than fair in terms of overall turnover percentage, ranking in the top quartile of KenPom in that statistic, only turning it over 17.3% of the time.
Syracuse has been effective in the half-court. It’s mostly just when teams show pressure that Syracuse runs into trouble.
“We’ve got to do a better job handling the pressure definitely, being stronger with it and make better decisions,” Jimmy Boeheim said.