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Syracuse men’s basketball: turnovers cost Orange another opportunity at big win

It’s not just the late game execution

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

There is no faulting the effort of the Syracuse Orange in their 72-68 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Syracuse battled UNC for 40 minutes but in a theme we’ve seen all too often the last two seasons, the Orange could not take advantage of the opportunity presented to them.

Syracuse shot over 50% from the field and 40% from 3.

They out-rebounded Carolina 35-30.

Armando Bacot summed it up best.

So how did the Orange lose this one? Well for one, Syracuse had 12 assists and 17 turnovers. UNC had 20 assists and 10 turnovers. You can’t give away that many possessions during a game without paying for it, and Syracuse was far too careless from the opening tip.

The focus is on the final minute, but the Orange started the game off with possessions where each guard failed to feed Jesse Edwards rolling open to the rim. Judah Mintz missed the pass and forced a shot. Joe Girard tried to feed Edwards and threw the ball out of bounds. Edwards fumbled a hand-off to Girard two possessions later and suddenly it was an 8-2 deficit for the Orange.

Girard scored 8 straight to keep Syracuse from getting run out of the gym and the Orange got to within 3 before two straight turnovers led UNC extend to 30-23. Symir Torrence settled things down and Syracuse was able to get back in striking distance before the half ended.

In the second half, Syracuse started fast and had the crowd into it, then with the game 48-46, the Orange gave up an 8-0 run fueled by bad offense leading into UNC transition. They kept fighting and back to back 3’s from Chris Bell made it a 59-57 game with 8:52 to play. That also happened to be the last shot Bell took in the game- he was 6-9 (3-5 from 3) and someone should have tried to find him again down the stretch.

The Orange ran a beautiful play to open Girard who faked and set himself for an open 3 for the lead. With 17 seconds and a 1-point deficit after yet another turnover, Syracuse put the ball in Mintz’s hands instead of trying to run another look for Girard. I get trying to attack quick to extend the game, but due to the review, there was time to put in Torrence and design another set of screens for Girard.

There are factors out of a team’s control, but three times in ACC play, Syracuse has had the ball in the final minute with a chance to win or tie, and they’ve turned it over three times. The season isn’t over yet, but Syracuse needs to get back to moving the ball and finding the players with the hot hand. Too many of last night’s turnovers came from players trying to do too much themselves.

UNC left the door wide open for the Orange who decided instead to try and climb onto to the roof to steal the win and rather than walking away with a win, they crashed hard to the ground. Jim Boeheim might not want to answer why it happened, but he needs to ask himself what he can do better in these situations