The Syracuse Orange dropped their third game in its last four against the Virginia Cavaliers, Saturday. Syracuse did hold a one-point halftime lead, but the offense could not shoot itself out of its recent slump and was a big reason for the loss.
Virginia, like it has during the ACC season, eventually just ground down Syracuse with its aggressive never-give-in-defense. Virginia held Syracuse to only 35.7 percent (20-of-56) from the field and to only 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from beyond the arc. Virginia has been doing this to every team that tries to get into its way, but this terrible offensive outing was not just a one-game aberration for coach Jim Boeheim‘s club.
Even before Syracuse started dropping these recent games, the offense was struggling to put up numbers. The Orange have not scored more than 61 points since defeating Duke, 91-89, in overtime on Feb. 1. During this recent eight-game stretch, the Orange have not shot better than 44.7 percent in any game. What is even more disturbing for Orange fans, is the team’s field goal went through a spell where it declined in every game until it hit rock bottom in the season-worst performance of 32.3 percent in the loss against Boston College.
The Orange defense may be great in the 2-3 set that utilizes its length, but Virginia put on an absolute clinic on how to defeat it. Virginia shot 50 percent from the field and hit 8-of-16 3-point field goals. It was not all about the 3-ball either. Two Cavaliers — Akil Mitchell (12 points) and Mike Tobey (11 points) — gave great contributions without even attempting a perimeter jumper. This has to be a major concern for Syracuse as postseason play is less than two weeks away.
Syracuse was the No. 1 team in the nation during the week of Feb. 17, but if the Orange do not figure out a way to get consistent scoring contributions from someone other than Tyler Ennis, they could be the victims of an early exit in the NCAA tournament.
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