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Three takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s 80-75 loss to Boston College

Syracuse fell to 14-7 overall and 5-5 in the conference after suffering a road defeat to Boston College.

Syracuse v Boston College Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team suffered its first defeat to Boston College in twelve games, falling 80-75 in Conte Forum on Tuesday night. The loss moved Syracuse to 2-4 in road games this season.

Syracuse started slow offensively in the halfcourt before eventually jumping out to a nine point lead in the first half. But after Judah Mintz and Maliq Brown picked up two fouls each, Boston College eventually took command and never looked back. The Eagles reclaimed the upper hand and led by seven at the break, only to score seven unanswered on the opposite side. It was all part of a 21-0 run that broke the game wide open.

Syracuse was able to respond and eventually cut the lead to two with under ten minutes to play, but wasn’t able to get over the hump. All in, the Syracuse defense couldn’t get stops, allowing Boston College to shoot 30-50 from the floor (60%) and 10-20 from three (50%). Boston College out-rebounded Syracuse 37-27.

The loss sets Syracuse back after gaining momentum against NC State and represents a missed opportunity for a team in need of wins to get into the NCAA Tournament conversation. To the takeaways.

Two foul participation

Syracuse led by seven when it ran into a bit of foul trouble in the first half. With Brown and Mintz on the sideline — Syracuse’s two most productive players to that point — Boston College regained control of the game. Mintz and Brown were eventually reinserted into the game before the half, but by then it was too late. The Eagles held momentum and Syracuse looked befuddled.

It’s worth highlighting that Syracuse came into the day with a two-foul participation of 31.3 percent (Ken Pom), which is No. 87 in the country. In other words, Syracuse continues to play guys when they pick up their second foul 31.3 percent of the time. That’s traditionally a lower two-foul participation rate than what Syracuse is used to. Jim Boeheim was consistent in trusting his guys to play with two fouls in the first half. Adrian Autry has a different philosophy and that’s fair.

The intention is clear: protecting your players with two first half fouls with the lead makes sense. But in this instance it proved costly. Sitting Mintz and Brown allowed Boston College to regain control of the lead, one which it wouldn’t relinquish.

Restore the OOB underneath defense to factory setting

Without exception Syracuse has gone to the 2-3 zone when opponents have an out of bounds underneath, almost by default. At this point in the season Syracuse isn’t exactly surprising teams with the zone. That, and the Orange gave up three wide open threes in the zone and Boston College made them pay.

Those three triples proved costly and one has to wonder if the defense played so sparingly is worthwhile, especially when its prone to surrendering open looks. The 2-3 zone has malfunctioned for Syracuse for some time now. It might be time to do a hard reset of the out of bounds defense.

Free throws matter

Bah gawd, that’s Brent Axe’s music...

Syracuse is a fairly average free throw shooting team at 72.3 percent on the season. But the Orange had plenty of chances to cut into the lead in the second half and couldn’t take advantage from the free throw line. Brown had another strong performance for Syracuse, but left two potential three-point plays on the table, missing both free throws after the and-one. Mintz also missed a costly pair down the stretch as Syracuse was trying to mount the comeback.

As a team, Syracuse finished 7-14 from the line. In a two possession game, well, you get the idea.