After losing two consecutive losses when bets were in their favor, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team made a much-needed statement in tonight’s 92-84 win against Arizona State. Although the team started strong, the second half brought some concern as the state of Arizona got back into the game. Unlike last night, however, Syracuse was able to hold out even when things looked worrisome.
Here are our three takeaways from tonight’s second-round win:
The Big Night of Jesse Edwards
One of the difference makers for Syracuse in tonight’s intense game was the great play by center Jesse Edwards. The Bahamas crowd chanted “MV-P” at the third-year player as he stood on the line with 2:11 seconds left in the game after scoring 21 points, 8 rebounds and one assist in his career in 35 minutes action .
Edwards was a force in the game throughout the game, finishing many contested layups and throwing down some nasty dunks as well. He even had Cole Swider’s game-icing assist with less than two minutes to play. Edwards caused a whole host of problems for the Arizona state defenses with his size and height, and played a monumental role in why the Orange squad ran away tonight with the W.
When Cole Swider is on… watch out
This season was filled with ups and downs for forward Cole Swider. Last night, Swider shot 2-14 from the field and 0-7 from past the arch in the loss to VCU. The senior striker who moved from Villanova University to Syracuse for the season has been inconsistent at times, but also a key difference maker in the games where he makes his perimeter shots with an efficient pace.
In the first half of tonight’s game, Swider was dangerously efficient, shooting 2-3 from behind the arch and 3-6 from the field. In the second, Swider continued to have the hot hand, scoring 11 points on 2-2 shooting from outside the arc and 4-6 shooting from the field. Before making a mistake in the final two minutes of the game, Swider finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while also making a decisive layup on an assist from Edwards. If Swider can continue this hot streak with an already imposing Syracuse three-point shooting heavy lineup, then look out for ACC.
Rebounding and defense looked strong in the first half but the issues are still evident
After two games in a row in which the Orange defense and rebound appeared doubtful, coach Jim Boeheim and his team started to get the metaphorical train back on track tonight during the game against Arizona State. The 2-3 zone worked efficiently in the first half and kept Arizona at 30 points, but the second half brought some problems for the Orange keeping the Sun Devils in check. An 18-point lead in the first half evaporated out of the blue in the second as Arizona narrowed its massive lead to just 8 with 1:48 left in the game. Syracuse also allowed three consecutive three-pointers from the Sun Devils in the first three minutes of the second half, which only gave the Orange more reason to panic. However, Cuse’s defense were able to turn things around after that three point barrage, mainly through strong shot matches, helping the defense where needed and rebounding defensively.
The Orange took 42 rebounds tonight, 30 of which were defensive, while Arizona had a total of 32 rebounds. While Syracuse’s overall rebounds tonight have been above their average this season, they sometimes struggled late in the game to create scoring opportunities from the defensive rebounds they grabbed, nearly costing them the game. There’s still time to flip the defense and transition game for Syracuse, but it’ll take a team effort to pull it off.