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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 80-63 win over Georgia Tech

Joe Girard is a better post player than Hakeem Olajuwon. Change my mind.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange trailed by seven points halfway through the first half to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. But an important switch to the press plus a Joe Girard offensive explosion propelled the Orange into a commanding lead which they didn’t look back from. Even a small Georgia Tech run halfway through the second half was snuffed out by great offensive positioning created by the chances in the first half. All of that added up to a Syracuse 80-63 win.

Here’s our three takeaways from a Syracuse victory in Atlanta:

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Hakeem who?

All of a sudden, Joe Girard has become the best post player on Syracuse.

I doubt most of you thought that statement would be true.

Girard has gotten going offensively by driving and backing down similar or smaller sized defenders in the post over the past few games. This added element in his game has given him the confidence to continue shooting with efficiency. It opens up his three-point shot and allows him to be the scorer that Syracuse wants. In the past, Girard would just chuck up shots to generate any offense not just for the team, but for himself as well. The added element of an inside game allows Girard to see the ball go through the net and build the confidence that he thrives on.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When in doubt, turn to ol’ reliable

Syracuse is back to pressing teams.

It’s fun to see an effective Orange press.

Syracuse neutralized Georgia Tech’s hot start with the full court press to cause turnovers and create unsettled situations. The Orange thrived on those situations on offense which helped unlock Girard offensively. The turnovers created by the press also slowed down the effective Georgia Tech fast passing in the first few minutes, creating some doubt in the Yellow Jackets offense. The zone settled zone because of some of turnovers created by the press. It was the earliest we’ve seen Jim Boeheim go to the press this season. That decision was critical to prevent the game from getting out of hand too quickly.

Johnny on the spot

If Syracuse needed a bucket or a stop, it seemed like Maliq Brown was always in the right place to provide that for the Orange. Brown’s positioning and awareness on both sides of the court is at another level now for Syracuse. It’s the main reason why he’s played so many minutes over the past few games. None of the other forwards are providing the efficiency and presence on the floor that he is. He’s the one forward who seems willing to do the dirty work inside, especially on offense, to give the driving guards other options. Brown also give Jesse Edwards some relief since the opposing frontcourt has to respect another scoring option on the interior. Brown continues to be key in unlocking Syracuse’s full potential this season.