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Syracuse men’s basketball: Looking at the critical final possession at Miami

Let’s break down that last chance to grab the win

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Miami (FL) Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With all the discussion about the late game possession for the Syracuse Orange in Miami, I felt it was worth a bit closer look.

The ire of fans has been directed at freshman point guard Judah Mintz for his decision to drive into heavy traffic with the Orange trailing 78-76. Mintz was blocked by Miami Hurricanes center Norchad Omier who was then fouled and made the clinching free throws.

Syracuse had closed to two on Joe Girard’s 3-pointer but the Orange’s inability to rebound allowed Miami to run the clock under 30 seconds. Jesse Edwards finally grabbed Miami’s third miss and Syracuse had the ball with 29 seconds left and no time outs.

The initial play was for Joe Girard to once again come off the baseline and around an Edwards screen as he had on the prior possession. Miami hedged and denied the pass while pressuring Mintz who was then left with this look as he tried to get in the lane.

From here Mintz probably should have read the double team and passed to Edwards who then could have handed to Girard or gotten the ball back to Mintz with more room to operate. He doesn’t have any other option at this point. Justin Taylor is posted on the wing but his defender isn’t dropping into the lane. Girard is out by half court and Benny Williams is in between crashing the glass or popping out for a jumper.

Mintz decided to get to the rim and with his current pace of getting free throws on 42% of his field goal attempts, it’s a strategy that had worked until Monday night. He’s what Mintz had right before going up with his shot. Jesse recognizes that a shot is going up and is heading to the rim. Taylor is trying to open a passing lane but he hasn’t moved high enough to give Mintz a bailout option. Benny is still in the same spot and Girard is out of the shot and the play.

There was time for Mintz to be a bit more patient but Syracuse could have done some other things to get a better look. Obviously saving a time-out would have been advisable. Boeheim took it after Girard’s shot and didn’t make a defensive substitution. Syracuse failed to grab a defensive board and Miami ran a minute off the clock, and when Mintz got into the lane none of the other players gave him an outlet which led to this.

Credit to Omier for leaving his man and helping while also stopping a pass option to a cutting Edwards. Hopefully the Orange will do a better job of helping their point guard should a similar situation arise this season.