The quest to New Orleans for a National Championship is over for the Syracuse Orange after a 77-70 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Early foul trouble forced SU out of its typical rotations and the Buckeyes made them pay by getting to the free throw line. Brandon Triche led the Orange with 15 points but the Syracuse offense was unable to get into a rhythm without contributions from Dion Waiters, who faced foul trouble. The loss capped the outstanding careers of seniors Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine. The two will be sorely missed in Syracuse.
Here are three thoughts from the game.
1. OSU owned the glass ...
SU was outrebounded by 15 (37-22) and allowed Ohio State to corral 13 offensive boards. That’s a recipe for a loss. Besides an impressive night from Baye Keita (11 rebounds) no one on the SU roster had more than three boards. The Buckeyes were more physical and were able to capitalize on second and third opportunities.
2. The free throw Line was pivotal...
The Orange made more field goals and three-pointers than the Buckeyes. But the ultimate distinguishing statistic between the two was the disparity at the stripe. Ohio State went 31-42 from the free throw line, which is an alarmingly high number of freebies to shoot in one game. OSU continuously attacked the SU zone and the whistle-happy referees rewarded them by sending the Buckeyes to the line on most occasions.
Syracuse was 20-25 from the line, a good percentage, but it wasn’t enough. Thanks to the 48 fouls called, SU found itself in early foul trouble and without opportunities to ignite its offense in transition. It’s tough to get into a rhythm and out in the full court when the game is being stopped so often because of fouls. This was a major issue for SU.
3. Keep perspective ...
The obstacles that the Syracuse basketball program faced this year could have derailed the squad’s season. Instead, thanks to the leadership from Jim Boeheim and his seniors Jardine and Joseph, the Orange maintained a focus and hunger rarely seen in college basketball.
This past season was one of the best in Syracuse’s esteemed history, no matter what happened in the postseason. The Orange didn’t lose in the Carrier Dome and were fun to follow with a team full of charming and magnetic personalities. Boeheim did an excellent job of combining the talent into a cohesive unit that maintained a goal-oriented mindset throughout the season. It was an outstanding year for the Orange.
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