Syra­cuse strug­gling as ranked op­po­nents await

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS -

As the sea­son pro­gresses, Syra­cuse coach Jim Boe­heim is still search­ing for an­swers to his team’s strug­gles. Be­fore the end of the month, the Orange has three straight games against ranked op­po­nents.

As the col­lege basketball sea­son pro­gresses to­ward March, Syra­cuse coach Jim Boe­heim is still search­ing for an­swers to his team’s strug­gles.

Nearly a year after mak­ing a sur­pris­ing run to the Fi­nal Four for the fifth time in his 41-year ca­reer, the Hall of Fame coach is star­ing at a daunt­ing sched­ule go­ing for­ward.

Call it make- or-break time.

“We need to get bet­ter. That’s what I can say for sure,” Boe­heim said.

Be­fore the end of the month, the Orange (10-7, 2-2 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) has three straight games against ranked op­po­nents — at No. 11 North Carolina and No. 20 Notre Dame and a home game against No. 9 Florida State. The three had a com­bined record of 46-6 head­ing into this week­end.

After tin­ker­ing with his lineup, Boe­heim guided Syra­cuse to con­vinc­ing wins at home last week over Mi­ami and Pitts­burgh. The de­fense rose to the oc­ca­sion and point guard John Gil­lon had 11 as­sists in each game to in­ject some needed con­fi­dence after a lack­lus­ter non­con­fer­ence sched­ule that pro­duced five losses.

Any hope that Boe­heim had fi­nally pieced to­gether a lineup that would take care of the team’s early-sea­son prob­lems was dashed on Tues­day night in a 10-point road loss to Vir­ginia Tech. The Hok­ies shot nearly 50 per­cent from the floor while Gil­lon was 2-for-9 shoot­ing in a per­for­mance that pro­duced just three as­sists with two turnovers. The most telling statis­tic of all, per­haps: Vir­ginia Tech scored 17 points in tran­si­tion to zero for Syra­cuse, a team that his­tor­i­cally has thrived in tran­si­tion.

“I think that they for­got we won two games in a row be­cause our de­fense was good,” Boe­heim said. “Our de­fense was hor­ren­dous, and our of­fense isn’t go­ing to quite be good enough to make up for that level of de­fense.”

The long-range of­fense cer­tainly wasn’t there, ei­ther. Syra­cuse was 5 of 17 (29.4 per­cent), a sub­par per­for­mance for a team that has hit 154 3-point­ers, sec­ond in the ACC to Notre Dame. That for­ward Tyler Ly­don, the team’s lead­ing re­bounder and sec­ond-lead­ing scorer, was hurt early in the game didn’t help, ei­ther. He came in av­er­ag­ing 13.5 points in league play but scored just two against the Hok­ies, hit­ting 1 of 5 from the floor in 29 min­utes.

“He said he was all right,” Boe­heim said. “Prob­a­bly should have not played him. He didn’t move very well.”

MATT GEN­TRY — THE ROANOKE TIMES VIA AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Syra­cuse’s Tyler Ly­don drives on Vir­ginia Tech’s Zach LeDay dur­ing the sec­ond half of the Hok­ies’ 83-73win in Blacksburg, Va., on Tues­day.

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