The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball program was a staple of consistency for over half a century, finishing at least .500 for 51 straight seasons. That run unexpectedly came to an abrupt end last season, when SU finished 15-16 (16-17 after the ACC Tournament).
The issues that plagued the Orange are pretty clear: a lack of depth, lackluster defense, and an inability to close out games. Even with them, Syracuse was only one more win from keeping the streak alive. Here are some of the notable games that ultimately got away:
November 20 vs Colgate, 100-85
On paper, this looked like a gimme game for the Orange. Instead, the Raiders marched into the Dome and could not miss all night, shooting over 45% overall and nearly 42% from distance. The 15-point loss was the first sign of Syracuse’s struggles to come.
December 11 at Georgetown, 79-75
This one hurts the most in my eyes. I’ve said before that being a program’s only Power 5 win is flat out embarrassing. Combined with the game being against an old Big East foe, having a group of SU students in attendance, and blowing a 10-point halftime lead, this is the one loss that is simply inexcusable.
Jan 8 at Wake Forest, 77-74 (OT)
While this wasn’t as draining of a loss as other games, it was the definition of losing a lead last-minute. After 39 minutes of neck and neck basketball, the Orange held a two-point lead. All they had to do was in-bound the ball and hit free throws to get a big road win. When that failed, it was on the defense to prevent a Demon Deacons’ basket in the final ten seconds. However, the zone defense completely broke and allowed Dallas Walton to throw down this dunk to tie things up. SU would lose in OT.
Jan 25 at Pitt, 64-53
In another loss that should’ve been an easy win, nearly the entire offense fell apart against the Panthers. Buddy Boeheim almost outscored the entire rest of the team with 25 points, while Joe Girard had his worst performance of the season, making only one shot the entire game. The Orange as a team barely shot 30% and were under 20% from the arc.
March 5 vs Miami, 75-72
The Orange finished the regular season by once again failing to close out a game they seemed to have in the bag. This one may have been the worst finish of the season. The Hurricanes seemed dead in the water; they were down by as much as 18 in the game. However, a cavalcade of errors led to a 10-0 run by the Canes in the final 2:29. Senior Day just about summed up the entire season.
Honorable Mention: ACC Tournament - Duke 3/10, 88-79
Not a single person thought the Orange would win this game, especially without Buddy Boeheim, but they still gave the Dukies one hell of a fight at MSG.
What do you think was the worst loss this season?
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Other (list in comments below)