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Syracuse men’s basketball: digging into the Orange’s slow starts

Who keeps hitting snooze?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 24 North Carolina at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve all seen the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team get off to slow starts this season, but is that perception or reality?

After another occurrence against the North Carolina Tar Heels, I decided to look at how slow these starts have been. Going back to the start of the regular season, I’ve charted the score at the first media timeout because you’ve got at least four minutes of action and each team will have had multiple possessions.

Here’s what it looks like:

Score at 1st Media Timeout

Game Opponent Syracuse Difference
Game Opponent Syracuse Difference
Lehigh 9 7 -2
Colgate 8 5 -3
Northeastern 9 12 3
Richmond (N) 2 10 8
St John's (N) 7 8 1
Bryant 8 6 -2
@ Illinois 7 3 -4
Notre Dame 13 10 -3
Oakland 10 13 3
Georgetown 17 6 -11
Monmouth 10 10 0
Cornell 11 7 -4
Pittsburgh 9 10 1
Boston College 5 4 -1
@ Louisville 5 8 3
@ Virginia 13 9 -4
Virginia Tech 10 7 -3
Notre Dame 16 13 -3
@ Miami 11 2 -9
@ Georgia Tech 15 8 -7
UNC 15 6 -9
Total 210 164 -46

Through 21 games, Syracuse has had the lead at this first media time-out on only six occasions, they have been tied once, and trailed during the rest. In ACC play, they have led only twice in the ten games and find themselves 35 points behind their opponents.

In the last six games, each opponent has reached double-digit points while the Orange have only done so once. Is it the starting line-up? Are the Orange really caught off-guard by the approach of conference opponents at this point in the season?

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

Now it’s been good that Syracuse has responded numerous times, but with a tougher finish to the season ahead, the Orange need to find a way to get off to better starts. The energy a team has to expend to constantly fight back from deficits could be a reason why Syracuse isn’t closing games out when they have a chance.

It’s hard to determine a solution to this problem. Is it a tweak to the starting unit? Do the Orange need to surprise teams with a different defensive look early? Would it help to have better offensive plays set-up to start?

Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things, but we’ll be looking to see if anything changes this Saturday night against Virginia Tech.