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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After a chaotic, double-overtime win over Indiana, Syracuse headed down south to open Atlantic Coast Conference play against Florida State.
Syracuse (5-3, 1-0 ACC) came from behind to top Florida State (5-3, 0-1 ACC) 63-60 on Saturday evening. The Orange started the game with their worst shooting half of the season but came back, shooting 50% in the second half.
Here are four observations from Syracuse’s 63-60 win over Florida State:
Sloppy shooting in the first half
Both Syracuse and Florida State came out the gate with poor shooting performances. Almost halfway through the first half, the two teams were a combined 6-for-28 from the field. Florida State managed to somewhat pull it together going 8-for-13 in the final seven minutes, but Syracuse still struggled to string together shots.
At times the Orange missed four, five, six and seven consecutive shots as they tried to find some sort of momentum. Buddy Boeheim tried again and again to provide a scoring punch, but he was doubled-teamed by FSU throughout the first half. Eventually, Buddy tried to attack his double team of Harrison Prieto and Matthew Cleveland. The rest of Syracuse cleared to the other side to give Buddy more space, but his drive ended with an emphatic rejection from Cleveland.
With no luck as a scorer, Buddy turned to passing to put some points on the board for the Orange. Joe Girard III dropped a pass to Buddy on the left-wing where Buddy pivoted for a second. Girard darted to the corner and got the return pass from Buddy. Girard elected not to shoot immediately, which allowed FSU’s Jalen Warley to sprint to the corner.
With a quick pump fake, Girard regained some space as Warley went flying through the air. Again, Girard chose not to shoot and then once Warley’s feet touched the hardwood again, Girard rose for a 3. But Warley bounced right back up and smashed the ball back at Girard, sending the point guard to the floor.
Syracuse ended the first half shooting 8-for-35 from the field, a new season-low.
Too many turnovers
Not only did Syracuse fail to take good shots in the first half, the ball would often not even make it to the intended shooter. While trying to get Buddy going, Girard’s passes would not find the target. At the top of the arc, Girard tried to throw a pass over Buddy’s defender into space.
But the pass had too much power on it and Buddy had to scramble to keep it inbound. He saved the ball, but when he turned to throw it back on the court, it went right to a Seminoles player, who scored a layup and drew the foul from Girard on the other end.
With Girard struggling, Symir Torrence came in for eight minutes in the first half to try and spark the offense. However, Torrence could not get much going either. Off a defensive rebound, Torrence grabbed the ball and charged down the court. The guard picked his head up to look for a cutter, but in that moment he lost track of the ball, which bounced off his knee and out of bounds.
The Orange turned the ball over eight times in the first half as the offense as a whole struggled to find its rhythm.
Streaky shooting flips the game
If the first half was any indication, it looked like Syracuse would leave Tallahassee with a loss. The Orange had just shot their worst first half of the season, yet with FSU also struggling to shoot, Syracuse was down by just eight entering the break.
Girard ended the first half on his backside after having his shot rejected by Warley. But out of the gate in the second half, it was Girard who kicked off the scoring for the Orange. The guard found himself in space at the top of the arc and drained a 3.
That deep shot kicked off a 25-7 run for the Orange where Syracuse began to drain shots that wouldn’t drop in the first half. At one point Girard gathered the ball at the top of the key, crossing his man up right then left before stepping back and draining a long 2.
When it looked like Syracuse might lose to self-inflicted wounds, the Orange came out in the second half like a new team shooting 50% in the second half en route to the win.
Back to a 1-1-3
Against Indiana, the Orange made a rare switch away from Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone to what the coach called a 1-1-3 zone. The switch was meant to help keep the ball out of the high post. After the game, Buddy mentioned that it was a tactic the Orange would look to use down the line.
Today, Syracuse entered halftime down just eight, but the Seminoles had made eight of their last 13 shots before the halftime buzzer. But after halftime, the Orange brought out their new look again.
After being fouled, Girard came out of a timeout to shoot two free throws. As he stood at the charity stripe to shoot both free throws, the rest of his teammates were already back on defense, this time with Buddy occupying a spot in the high post. After draining his second free throw, Girard just backpedaled to the top of the 3-point line to complete the 1-1-3.
In just 10 minutes, the Orange had three steals, one more than they had in the entire first half. When FSU’s Anthony Polite drove under the basket, Jesse Edwards’ large frame forced Seminoles guard to continue dribbling the ball instead of laying it up. Soon Polite was trapped under the basket and when he tried to throw it to a teammate in the high post, Girard swooped down to intercept the pass.
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