Imagine the feeling that comes with beating a top-four team in the ACC and having your team's best player put on a shooting clinic en route to a conference scoring title on your regular-season finale heading into the conference tournament next week.
Now imagine this: your team was leading the whole game practically and you have a 10 point lead with 2:29 remaining. Your best player then secures the conference scoring title, with 1:10 left and you are up seven points. The game outcome at this point is signed, sealed, and waiting to be delivered, right?
Well long story short: the Syracuse Orange blew it.
The Orange is currently living that dreadful moment, after losing to the Miami Hurricanes 75-72.
On Senior Day in front of their home floor, the Orange shot the ball extremely well in the first half but a strong second-half push from the Hurricanes was enough to take down the Orange regardless of Buddy Boeheim’s 30 point performance.
Fans should be livid right now but there are takeaways to be talked about. Here are our three takeaways from Syracuse’s loss:
Takeaway 1: Buddy Boeheim is going to be missed
In what was his last career game inside the Dome, Buddy Boeheim made sure not to disappoint.
In the opening five minutes of this afternoon's contest, Boeheim collected eight out of Syracuse’s first 11 points himself.
Boeheim shot 3-4 from the field and 2-2 from distance, and wouldn't slow down there.
He finished the first half leading the Orange in scoring with 18 points shooting 50-50-100 from the field, distance, and charity stripe. Boeheim also collected a single steal to add to his strong shooting heavy stat line.
The senior guard headed into this game needed a 30 point outing to surpass the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Alondes Williams, for the ACC scoring title.
With 18 points drained in the first half, Boeheim got to quick work in the second half. Less than a minute into the second, Buddy drained a three, showing he still has the hot hand shooting the ball.
"You can't leave Buddy open!"— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) March 5, 2022
While his hot scoring slowed down significantly during Miami's 9-0 scoring run, he got two free throws to fall to extend the Orange’s lead to seven.
He then went on to knock down two more three-pointers and a mid-range jumper to get 28. Then with 1:10 remaining in the game, Buddy picked up a foul which sent him to the line with the chance to win the scoring title if he sank both.
With complete swagger, Buddy knocked down both to score 599 points on the season and securing the ACC scoring title.
While the game ended in a manner that should not be remembered, Buddy’s performance today should. He's been such an integral part of Syracuse basketball for the past three years and to see his strong senior season capped off on his home floor doing what he does best shooting the leather off the ball. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a win.
Not everything happens the way we expect it to though and Buddy regardless of a rough game and season for the Orange earned a place in Syracuse basketball history.
Takeaway 2: Strong all-around team defense, until there wasn't any at all
Whenever Syracuse has faced a top-six conference team throughout this entire 2021-22 season, the game outcome could be decided on a coin toss.
Fans always knew that Syracuse’s offense when connecting has the potential to beat any team in the conference, but if their defense wasn't synced, a win is an afterthought for the Orange.
This afternoon though, Syracuse’s defense came out with the same energy the offense had: leave everything on the floor.
Through 12 minutes of basketball, Syracuse’s defense held the Hurricanes to 6-14 shooting from the field and 1-7 from while also forcing four Miami turnovers.
They played the floor well from the start, communicating with each other and making the right adjustments when playing help defense and moving around screens.
By the end of the first, the orange sat in firm control of the game, leading the Hurricanes 37-26 holding them to below 40% shooting from the field and distance as a team.
Early in the second half though, the Hurricanes began storming back into the game. After another buddy Boeheim three, the Hurricanes went on a 9-0 scoring fun for two and a half minutes to sit only being down by nine with 14:43 remaining in the game.
When adversity hit on Syracuse’s road to victory today, they found their composure and began taking things as they come rather than getting overwhelmed by the moment.
This defensive mindset and some strong offense were enough to get the Orange to stay in the game until the final four minutes of the game. then everything that kept us winning this game evaporated.
Miami went on a 15-2 run in the final 2:29 of the game which was enough for them to come back and win this game. Similar to many games this season, everything was working until it wasn't. Syracuse lost a game they were in firm control of without three contributors in Williams, Edwards, and Torrence playing and still found a way to lose. Let's just hope the odds are in our favor next week in the conference tournament because right now there's not much to be happy about if you're a fan of the Orange.
Takeaway 3: Today’s strong three-point shooting needs to carry over into conference tournament play
Syracuse shot the lights out of the ball from distance today. In most games this season, Syracuse usually has one or two players leading their three-point shooting effort.
Today Buddy, Joe, and Cole each brought the best of their games against a top conference team.
Buddy was electric in the first half, scoring 18 points on 5-10 shooting from the field and 3-6 shooting from distance. Cole Swider and Joe Girard made three 3-pointers each.
While Jimmy Boeheim didn't score from distance in the first half, he played his patented post-up game in the paint to score six for the Orange along with rebounding the ball well.
In the second, Syracuse’s hot scoring effort began to fizzle out as Miami came storming back into this game.
The Orange were outscored 15-9 through the first eight minutes of the half and needed to find their rhythm quickly if there was still any chance they would win this game now only being up by four.
Syracuse began to lock in though and knocked down some big-time shots. Swider, Girard, and Buddy Boeheim each got a three to fall to help with seven minutes remaining in the contest.
Swider with a big 3! pic.twitter.com/FvyAjPfVDX— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) March 5, 2022
Girard went on to hit another huge three with less than four minutes left in the game to extend their lead to eight followed by Buddy knocking down a fading mid-range jumper in the next possession to put the Orange up ten with 2:29 remaining in the game.
Then a combination of the offense shutting down completely and some turnovers lost us the game. If we have any shot at even winning a game in the ACC’s, Syracuse is gonna need to shoot the heck out of the ball and MAKE those big shots late in the game.