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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 77-74 ACC Tournament loss to Wake Forest

The more things change, the more things stay the same

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A back-and-forth game between the Syracuse Orange and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons fittingly ended on a buzzer-beater. Unfortunately for Orange fans, it was Wake’s Daivien Williamson who nailed a right-wing three to send Syracuse home. Syracuse battled back after trailing by 13 but it was just not enough for the Orange to move on in Greensboro.

Here’s our three takeaways from yet another early ACC tournament exit:

Stepping up

Wake Forest clearly had a gameplan after Saturday’s defeat to the Orange. It was to deny Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard any chance to shoot the ball. Edwards was doubled immediately once he got the ball in the low post and a defender face-guarded Girard all game long. So Syracuse’s other players needed to step up to the task and provide the scoring. Early on, the Orange supporting cast answered as Benny Williams and Chris Bell starting hitting shots. That gave Syracuse the initial lead in the first half.

However, a big reason why Syracuse lost this game is that Williams and Bell couldn’t sustain that offensive efficiency throughout the game. The middle 20 minutes saw Wake Forest go on big offensive runs in large part due to Williams and Bell missing the early shots that they hit. The Demon Deacons continued their defensive gameplan and the Orange couldn’t break through offensively until they switch to the press.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Second Round - Syracuse vs Wake Forest Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Can’t get away with it forever

I hope Syracuse fans weren’t expecting the same defensive performance that the Orange delivered on Saturday. Wake did make one less three but were much more efficient. It was the long ball that brought the Demon Deacons back and ultimately won them the game. The defense is far to inconsistent to enjoy for long stretches of time. Sure, the first couple of minutes were good but Wake had too many shooters that missed wide open looks still. This was another game where the score was much closer than it probably should have been.

Wake Forest v Syracuse Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The missing cog

I mentioned Wake Forest’s gameplan against Joe Girard, but he needed to show more once he got the ball. Being Syracuse’s leading scorer this season and only shooting 2-8 from the field is not how you win games. Likewise, I get that Judah Mintz had 18 points but that was on a wildly inefficient 7-21 shooting. With Wake doing everything they could to block off Jesse Edwards from scoring, the guards needed to join in on supporting the Orange offense in a much more efficient manner. Instead, it was a return to form from earlier this season - desperate times means hero isolation ball from the guards. That ultimately meant that there just wasn’t enough juice to hang with the Demon Deacons.