Orange lose third straight in Iowa matchup
Orange drop third straight
For much of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge between Syracuse and Iowa, Coach Jim Boeheim stood still on the sidelines in quiet resignation as the Orange were handed their third loss in a row.
“The four teams we’ve lost to are just bigger, stronger and better than we are.” He said after the game.
The Hawkeyes (6-2) kept things close in the first half, but their undoubtedly better play reduced the Orange (4-4) to .500. The ‘Cuse’s 4-4 start ties for the worst start of Coach Boeheim’s career and the game did little to bolster confidence moving forward.
Back and Forth Basketball
For all the scoring that happened, the game felt monotonous. Both teams were methodical in their approaches. Syracuse set a tone defensively with a strong zone press, which would continue throughout the game. Iowa took a similar approach and relied heavily on their star Center, Luka Garza.
Garza had 10 points in the first half, and it was all made possible by his positioning and power under the basket. He was the strongest player on the court all night, and Syracuse failed to find a decent combatant to match his level of play. Sidibe was outplayed several times, leading to a quick Quincy Guerrier substitution.
“(Sidibe’s) game is movement, and he’s not moving the way he needs to,” Boeheim said, citing a cold as a contributor to his lesser performance.
Guerrier provided some spark in Sidibe’s stead with five rebounds and a flashy dunk on an assist by Hughes; a sight Boeheim wants to see more. The 44th year coach stated after the game that Hughes needs to distribute the ball more, and he thinks the Junior is looking to score more than he’s looking to assist.
Dolezaj continued to be a spark plug and was the leading scorer in the first half with ten points. In particular, the Bratislava big man put up his first three of the season, which garnered the biggest cheer of the night.
For all the effort the Orange put forth, it was enough to keep pace with Iowa. The Hawkeyes lead 30-29 at halftime. It was certainly not enough to prepare them for what would transpire in the second half.
Syracuse continued to rely on their press, but it just didn’t work. Iowa moved the ball too well, and with Garza on cleanup down low, the Orange were simply outplayed. Their defensive approach was of great concern for Coach Boeheim after the game.
“We can’t press this year with this team, and that just blows the game out.” He said.
As if the defensive struggles weren’t enough, Syracuse shot only 22% from three in the second half, and the usually electric Joe Girard III failed to find the net until just over eight minutes left in the game. He seemed to be exposed by an Iowa team known for playing big, and the disappointing performance even led to Howard Washington Jr. entering the game for a time. Despite the attempts to change things up, all the substitutions in the world weren’t enough to stave off Luka Garza and the hellish Hawkeye attack.
During Girard’s absence, Iowa went on a 12-point run, with the Orange struggled to respond. The dominant streak spelled the beginning of the end for Syracuse. In a perhaps unexpected turn of events, Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon came off the bench to be a force from three.
Bohannon had just 5 points in the first half, but by the end of the game, he had put up 17. He managed to land 11 shots, with five of them coming behind the arc for the game. His performance was only outdone by Garza, who finished the night with 23 points.
By the end of the matchup, the Orange’s leading scorer was Marek Dolezaj with 12 points. He was outscored by three Hawkeyes: Garza, Bohannon, and Wieskamp with 23, 17, and 13, respectively. Those values were indicative of the overall theme on Thursday night. Iowa was just a better team. When all was said and done, their superiority allowed them to return to the Midwest with a resounding 68-54 victory.
With such a difficult loss, it can be tough to summarize what it means for the season. Coach Boeheim probably put it best, saying, “There was a lot of bad out there, and I didn’t see much good.”
Hopefully, the Orange can find some good when they travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech this Saturday, December 7th at 12 p.m. in McCamish Pavilion.