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After two desperation heaves fell short in overtime, one by Buddy Boeheim and one by Cole Swider, both coming from beyond the arc in an attempt to tie the game, Syracuse clinched its first three-game losing streak since the 2019-20 season with a 77-74 overtime loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. Dallas Walton dunked a ball on the final possession of regulation to force the extra time, and the Orange (7-8, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) only managed five points in the extra frame before dropping below .500 on the season.
Jimmy Boeheim led SU with 21 points, while Alondes Williams led the Demon Deacons with 25 after Isaiah Mucius carried their offense with four 3-pointers in the opening half.
Here are some observations from the Orange’s defeat against Wake Forest (13-3, 3-2) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Buddy and Girard struggle in the second half and overtime
After topping 22 points in three consecutive games, Buddy managed just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting on Wednesday against Miami before fouling out. And three days later, this time against the Demon Deacons, Buddy made just five of his 20 shots.
In the first half, Joe Girard III replaced Buddy’s scoring production by scoring 11 points. Early in the frame, with Girard perched to the left of Buddy, the latter drove into the left lane and forced Girard’s defender to fade over. That created an opening for Buddy to kick the ball back out to Girard, and SU’s point guard connected on the open 3. Girard had nine points in the first eight minutes, including three free throws after being fouled shooting a 3.
But Girard managed just four points the rest of the game and missed all six of his shots in the second half. Buddy managed two points in overtime on a pair of free throws and finished just 5-for-20 from the field overall. Syracuse drew up the final play for its top scorer on the final possession, but it sailed well off its intended target because of Wake Forest’s defense.
Girard had 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting, the third time in four games he’s made fewer than four shots from the field.
Mucius for 3, on repeat early
Wake Forest entered the game ranked fourth in the country in 2-point shooting percentage, per KenPom, and 178th on shots from behind the arc. Its 3PA/FGA, the ratio of 3-pointers compared to total shots attempted, ranked 116th in the country. But in the first half, the Demon Deacons attempted 20 3-pointers on their 26 field goal attempts. Mucius made four of them, including several deep shots near the logo, like Miami’s Charlie Moore did against the Orange on Wednesday.
Wake Forest found openings for those 3-pointers initially through its skip passes, from the left wing or corner to the right side, instead of utilizing a forward in the high post like past opponents have done against Syracuse. As the game stretched into overtime, though, it flashed a player in the high post as well as one who cycled from block to block — opening the lanes for skip passes from the top of the key that blew by Jimmy, like the pass from Alondes Williams at the end of regulation.
Edwards’ foul trouble forces small ball
Girard raced up the court in transition after collecting a steal, but he also lost possession in front of the Syracuse bench, and Alondes Williams ended up tearing toward the SU basket with only one player — Jesse Edwards — standing in his way. At that point, Edwards had already been called for four fouls. A fifth would force the Orange to experiment with their forward rotation again, either playing small or subbing in backup center Frank Anselem.
Instead of stepping out of the way and letting Alondes Williams finish a dunk, Edwards stepped into his path and picked up that final foul. Alondes Williams drew 5.7 fouls per 40 minutes entering the game, per KenPom, and this one with 9:01 remaining in the second half forced the Orange to play the rest of the game — which was tied at that point — without their starting center.
It was the eighth time this season — and fourth consecutive game — that Edwards fouled out, and the Orange turned to their small lineup with Jimmy at center for the remainder of the game.
Edwards was one of three SU players to fall into foul trouble in the opening half, as Swider and Buddy also picked up a pair.
Anselem in overtime
Less than 20 seconds after Benny Williams missed a 3-pointer in overtime, Anselem checked in for the Orange with 2:45 left in the extra frame after playing just seven minutes in regulation. He forced a jump-ball on Wake Forest’s first offensive possession and grabbed two offensive rebounds, too.
After the second offensive board, Walton fouled Anselem, and he went to the free-throw line with two shots to tie the game. He missed the first, but the Demon Deacons were called for a lane violation. Then, Anselem made the second, before the third spun out and Wake Forest positioned itself to seal the game.
Bench points? Not really, again
After Syracuse’s victory over Cornell on Dec. 29, Jim Boeheim lambasted the Orange’s bench production, saying, “We got to get something there, and we’re not getting it.” But in the two games that followed, against Miami and Virginia, they managed just seven combined bench points.
In the first half of Saturday’s game, SU had a brief spurt where Benny Williams hit a pair of corner jumpers — one from the corner on the left side, the other a step inside the 3-point arc in the right corner — and Symir Torrence drove in isolation for a floater to give the Orange six points.
Outside of a blowout win over Brown on Dec. 27, when SU scored 16 points off the bench as reserves and walk-ons subbed in, six would’ve been its most in a game since the nine — led by Anselem’s five — against Georgetown. But as the Orange turned to their small lineup in the second half, that’s where the bench production plateaued again. Benny Williams played 13 minutes in the second half en route to a career-high 24 but missed both of his shots.
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