The Syracuse Orange are back to .500 (2-2) in ACC play, as despite losing a 19-point first half lead, SU successfully rallied late to narrowly squeeze past Boston College 69-59 Wednesday night in the JMA Dome.
The game was divided into three acts, making it easy to similarly split our three takeaways from win number 11 on the season.
Grand Theft Otto
The first 18 minutes of this game were all Orange, and it mainly had to do with their patience and precision on defense.
Chris Bell and Justin Taylor drained threes to open the scoring, but after that, the only thing falling from distance were bricks. While the offense slowed to a crawl, the man-to-man looked locked in, and the Eagles began to force passes.
Even without their 7’4” center, ‘Cuse used their reach to take advantage. Quadir Copeland had three takeaways, while Maliq Brown had three blocks and was one of three Orange players with a pair of steals.
Overall, the Orange had 12 first half steals, leading to 16 points; BC only had six points off turnovers, and not-so-coincidentally trailed by 10 at halftime.
Lack of Adjustments
Syracuse committed a cardinal sin: they let their foot off the gas way too early.
An 8-0 run by BC gave them confidence and momentum coming out of the locker room, and once they held onto the basketball better, they realized SU was diverting back into iso-ball. The main culprit: Judah Mintz.
I’ve been worried about Judah’s need to get to the line for a long time, and tonight showed what can happen (1/7 FG) when he’s limited in that regard. It doesn’t help that whistles were left in pockets all night, but you have to find a way for your playmaker to get going if his de facto strategy of “drive through contact” isn’t working. There was way too much of four white jerseys standing still while the fifth did the same move for the -th time.
Is anyone really surprised the exact thing every ACC opponent should be gameplanning for didn’t work?
Boston College clawed their way back, and the lead shrunk from double digits, to four right before an Adrian Autry timeout, to gone shortly after. If SU had continued to capitalize in transition play and just made the simple plays, they could have put the game (and the weeknight crowd) to bed, but it instead dragged out and beyond what it should have been. Gents, take it as a chance to learn.
The Killer B’s
While Mintz and J.J. Starling (2 pts, 4 reb) both struggled, a different Orange starter went off down the stretch to secure the win.
Maliq Brown got his first start of the season, playing at center, and make the most of it.
The normal sixth man for SU got hot exactly when Red’s squad needed a jolt. Brown took control by attacking the boards and the rim alike; he led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds in the second half, ending the night with 19 & 8.
Maliq taking over inside!— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 11, 2024
Although there isn’t really a short clip I can insert to show it, Maliq was also an Absolute Magician while guarding BC’s big man. As an esteemed commenter put it: “Pete Davidson enjoyed his trip to Syracuse more than Quinten Post.” His reward from matching up with #1 was a number ‘0’ in the points column.
Chris Bell also made some timely shots (8/14, 4/9 from distance), including this one to effectively ice the game inside the final two minutes:
Bell beats the shot clock! ️ pic.twitter.com/MoIphhgWar— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 11, 2024
Bell led the Orange with 20 points, showing that while he may not crash the glass as much as others, he’s still got a good shot to utilize.