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After Clemson nailed a 3-pointer to cut SU’s lead to seven points, Joe Girard III answered right back with a 3-pointer of his own. The make, his fourth consecutive 3-pointer on Tuesday night, stretched SU’s lead back to double-digits.
Clemson seemed to have an answer for every Syracuse basket — the Tigers answered Girard’s trifecta with an electrifying dunk over Jesse Edwards — because the Orange defense couldn’t get many stops. But SU eventually pulled away with a 13-point win. The conference victory puts the Orange back at .500.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s (9-9, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) 91-78 win over Clemson (10-8, 2-5 ACC) on Tuesday night in the Dome:
Syracuse, once again, proves no lead is a comfortable one
This season, Syracuse has blown double-digit leads against Georgetown, Virginia and Miami, among others. Tuesday night, SU had what should’ve been a comfortable cushion when it took a 12-point lead early in the first half.
That stemmed from a 2-of-2 performance for Girard from beyond the arc, and the Orange shooting 7-of-10 from the field in the first nine minutes. Then Syracuse watched that disappear in minutes, as Clemson used a 9-0 run to pull within two points — and then later when the Tigers took their second lead of the night.
In the second half, SU couldn’t build a lead like it originally had. Every bucket immediately after the break seemed to be answered. The Orange couldn’t get a stop. When Jimmy Boeheim got the offensive board and putback of Buddy Boeheim’s missed mid-range jumper to stretch SU’s lead to four, Clemson cut it back to two by driving in the paint.
Clemson turned it over foolishly, but Cole Swider’s 3-point attempt rimmed out and Clemson got another two points inside. Girard made three free throws, and Clemson answered with a 3 of its own.
This went back and forth for much of the second half, and Syracuse couldn’t stretch its lead far beyond six or seven points. But for the Orange, an impressive shooting performance outweighed the fact that they couldn’t get many defensive stops.
Cole Swider’s inconsistency continues
Swider seemed to be getting into rhythm by scoring double-digits against Syracuse’s last four opponents. He had a confidence-boosting game against Florida State on Saturday when he posted 17 points on 4-of-7 from deep.
But his inconsistency on the floor returned once more on Tuesday when he finished 2-of-7 (and 1-of-5 from deep) for seven points. On one shot early in the second half, Swider released a mid-range shot after initially going into the paint. The attempt turned out to be an air ball, a forced shot late in the shot clock, and the crowd in the Dome murmured in frustration. One person shouted “pass the ball.” Swider flipped his hands up looking for a foul that didn’t come.
Then a few minutes later, Swider got back to that same spot on the left side, let go of the same shot, and got it to swish. When SU led by five midway through the half, Swider made it three with a mid-court turnover on a poor pass. Then he missed a wide-open look from the top of the arc.
Swider talked about being more aggressive offensively, and head coach Jim Boeheim said he wanted to get Swider more shots, but neither happened against Clemson.
Bourama Sidibe makes his return (sort of)
Bourama Sidibe has been struggling with knee injuries for a sizable part of his recent career — he missed all but 15 minutes of last season with a knee injury and then was supposed to be out for the first four weeks of SU’s current season. That turned into almost two months, before Sidibe played three minutes against Brown on Dec. 27 and two minutes against Cornell on Dec. 29.
He hadn’t played since — until Tuesday night against Clemson — when he appeared in his first meaningful minutes of the season. With about 17 minutes left in the first half, Edwards checked out for Sidibe, who was seated at the scorer’s table. Sidibe played only two minutes in that sequence, spinning inside to swish a right-handed bucket from close-range.
The center received an impressive ovation from the Carrier Dome crowd after his entrance, and then again when he scored, and once more when he exited shortly after.
Symir Torrence impresses despite limited minutes
Symir Torrence played a noteworthy role in Saturday’s Syracuse-Florida State game after SU went with a small lineup in the second half that featured three guards, including Torrence, Girard and Buddy.
Boeheim said the lineup worked better than expected and praised Torrence’s ball-handling abilities against pressure. On Tuesday against the Tigers, Torrence saw a slight increase in playing time, finishing with 14 minutes. He drove in the left lane and scored on a layup after posting an impressive spin-move in the first half.
Then just a few minutes later, he showed off his handles once more when he darted from left to right in the paint before exploding ahead for a smooth bucket off the right side of the glass. Torrence was 2-of-3 for four points in the first half, not scoring for the rest of the night.
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