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Syracuse men’s basketball: three takeaways from blowout loss to Virginia

We’ll see how this group responds on Tuesday

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was a brutal afternoon for the Syracuse Orange in their ACC opener. After playing the Virginia Cavaliers close for 15 minutes, the Orange watched Tony Bennett’s squad take control and cruise to an 84-62 win. Let’s get to the takeaways...

Middle Eight isn’t Great

Once again Syracuse found themselves in a close game as the first half was winding down and like the last couple of years, they let it get away before the break. After Isaac McKneeley’s three-pointer made it 22-18 Virginia with five minutes left, the Orange let the game get away. Three turnovers and two missed free throws in those final five minutes enabled Virginia to close the half on an 18-6 run. Combine that with the first four minutes of the second half and it was a 30-14 stretch overlapping halftime and game over.

Judah vs Beekman

After exploding for a career-high against LSU, Judah Mintz struggled against ACC DPOY Reece Beekman. Mintz finished 2-8 from the field, and only attempted two free throws. He was also held to one assist on the afternoon as Virginia’s defense forced him to settle for shots away from the rim. The Orange need to find ways to get Mintz going early against ranked opponents.

Flush this one

Syracuse has to wipe this one away quickly because the Cornell Big Red come to the Dome on Tuesday looking to pull off the upset they were close to last season. In each of the Orange’s three losses, they’ve let the game get away from them. As the season moves forward, this team has to find a way to channel the intensity they showed in the second half of the Colgate and LSU games and bring that for a full 40 minutes.

This squad has two players in their third season of college basketball so there isn’t a lot of veteran leadership to lean on in the huddle. Right now there isn’t a bad loss on the resume, but with two games this week the Orange need to avoid putting themselves in the same hole they faced the last two seasons. Today’s game was ugly, but it’s not one that will damage post-season hopes on its own. We’ll see if there’s a carry over effect.