Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (16-14, 9-10), it did. In fact, astronomically worse.
Not only did Syracuse lose its fourth-straight game, but it did so at home Tuesday night to Georgia Tech (13-17, 5-14), the third-worst team in the ACC by conference record who had been 1-9 in away games prior to its matchup versus the Orange. It got so bad, coach Boeheim switched to man defense (yes, man-to-man) as the Yellow Jackets torched the Orange’s defense from start to finish.
Georgia Tech made the TNIAAM staff (myself included) eat our words and then some compared to how we predicted this game would end up. After averaging 68.6 points per game up to this point in the season, the Yellow Jackets managed to score 96 points in an eventual 20-point defeat for the Orange.
Both teams battled back and forth in the first half after Syracuse fell into a (typical) deficit early, with a 7-0 allowing the Yellow Jackets to go up 10-4 and forcing coach Boeheim to call a timeout just three minutes into the game. A 7-0 response by the Orange gave the team a brief lead, but it was all Georgia Tech for most of the first half. After ‘Cuse led 14-13 early and led for under three minutes of game time in the first half, the Yellow Jackets stormed ahead as Georgia Tech was shooting 63% from the field at one point.
Judah Mintz and Jesse Edwards each chipped in 14 points on a combined 10/18 shooting from the field in the first half, but Georgia Tech led for over 85% of the game’s first 20 minutes due to its hot shooting from everywhere outside of the paint. Especially as the Yellow Jackets extended its lead by as much as 13 points (46-33), Georgia Tech shot above 57% from the field, including 10/22 (45.5%) from three, in the first half.
The Orange were able to cut its double-digit deficit to as low as 7 points, with the team trailing 53-44 at halftime. The team was fine on offense (57% from the field and 4/10 from three), but as we’ve seen recently with Syracuse, Georgia Tech took advantage of late rotations, excellent perimeter shooting, and minimized turnovers by the Orange. Four players for the Yellow Jackets scored in double-figures, led by 17 points from guard Miles Kelly and the backcourt duo of Lancy Terry and Kyle Sturdivant (12 points each).
Halftime at the Dome— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) March 1, 2023
Jesse and Judah with 14 each pic.twitter.com/gb3QK6y04R
Entering the second half, a bad situation turned worse, with an 18-4 run by the Yellow Jackets forcing the Orange into its largest deficit of the game (69-46) with under 15 minutes left to go in the game. From there, Syracuse showed a flash here or there, but it was ultimately never enough to make a serious comeback of any kind.
(And yes, Boeheim used all his timeouts by this point, which has to be a record, right?)
As Syracuse’s offense slowly tapered off, the Yellow Jackets took advantage of its scorching offense (and the Orange’s porous defense) to hand ‘Cuse a 28-point loss.
Mintz finished with 21 points and 7 assists, while Edwards ended up with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks while shooting 8/12 from the field. Both Joe Girard (11 points) and Benny Williams (11 points) each finished in double-figures, but Girard struggled for most of the night against the tall, athletic Georgia Tech defenders. Outside of those four players, the rest of the Orange combined for just 7 points.
Defense remained the biggest, more glaring hole (yet again) for the Orange, as Syracuse allowed Georgia Tech to shoot over 53% from the field and 18/39 (46%!!!) from three.
Not a good look for Syracuse heading into the 20th anniversary of the 2002-2003 NCAA Championship anniversary. The Orange will hope to avoid five-straight losses heading into its season finale against Wake Forest on Saturday.
TNIAAM community: what are your thoughts on tonight’s game? Clearly, there’s a lot to unpack. Leave your comments down below.