The result of the game was what the Syracuse Orange wanted, and to a large degree needed, as they defeated the DePaul Blue Demons Wednesday in their final home game of the season. However, the method in which Syracuse got that win was not what they were hoping for, as they looked sluggish and uninspired early on against the perennial basement dwellers of The Big East and continued their profound struggles shooting the ball from the perimeter.
For the game, Syracuse made just two of 17 three-point attempts. On senior night, senior James Southerland, the Orange’s best outside shooter, was 1-9 from the perimeter and 5-19 from the field, despite finishing with 22 points. Although a few of his shots were ill advised, most of Southerland’s misses were shots that he’s more than capable of making. This poor shooting performance comes on the heels of Saturday’s loss to the Louisville Cardinals, during which Southerland missed a handful of good looks in the first half that could have impacted the game in a meaningful way. Syracuse’s shooting has been bad enough this season, but if Southerland of all people is unable to convert shots that he’s expected to make, then big problems will be lurking for the Orange heading down the stretch.
Fellow senior Brandon Triche also continued his well-documented struggles from the perimeter, missing all three of his three-point attempts and finishing 4-10 from the field. Triche has been a capable three-point shooter throughout his career, but his shooting percentage from the outside has dipped below the 30% mark on the season due to an extended slump during the second half of the conference schedule. If Triche is able to make shots the rest of the way, Syracuse will be come a different team, but he has given little indication that he is close to breaking out of his slump.
The Orange’s struggles shooting the ball were compounded by the continued ineffectiveness of redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney. Cooney had three wide-open looks from the perimeter against DePaul, but missed all three of them in what may have been his last opportunity to get going from the perimeter and become a contributor for the Orange this season. If Cooney couldn’t make any of the shots he took tonight, there’s no reason to think he’ll be able to any shots the rest of the season, leaving it up to Southerland and Triche alone from the perimeter.
So while Syracuse got the win they needed against DePaul to snap their three-game losing streak, their inability to make perimeter shots continued. Until the Orange can start to make outside shots, their offense will continue to be sluggish and fall short of what they need it to be to make a deep run in March.