Men's Basketball

Syracuse defense fails in 96-81 loss to Boston College

Jessica Sheldon | Staff Photographer

Syracuse is searching for answers after getting demolished in a 96-81 loss to Boston College.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Ky Bowman opened his mouth wide and grinned toward the Boston College fans sitting in the corner. He had just hit his third 3-pointer in three minutes. As he spun around and trotted back on defense, his dyed red hair bounced behind him. After a media timeout 6 seconds later, BC’s bench also bounced, onto the floor holding an 18-point lead with just under 16 minutes to play.

The Eagles were dismantling Syracuse’s defense and were in command of the game.

“If you give guys open shots in college basketball,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said, “they’re going to make them.”

Boston College (8-6, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) scorched the Orange (8-6, 0-1), 96-81, on Sunday afternoon at Conte Forum. The Eagles went 16-of-26 from behind the arc, the first time an SU opponent has shot that well from deep since 2008. The 96 points allowed is a new season-high, breaking St. John’s’ 93 points just two games ago. BC, meanwhile, won its first ACC game since 2015.


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Syracuse allowed Boston College to move the ball fluidly. Boeheim said his guards didn’t locate shooters on the perimeter. No one shut down the high post. SU has allowed at least 70 points in six of its last nine games.

“We haven’t had a good defensive effort against anybody that’s any good,” Boeheim said.

Anybody that’s any good now also includes Boston College, which entered Sunday with the 219th most efficient offense in the country, according to Kenpom.com.

Just two minutes into the game, guard Jerome Robinson caught a pass in transition off a steal, made the layup and got fouled. BC head coach Jim Christian pumped his fist. Robinson made the free throw and the Eagles took a 5-0 lead. It was a sign of things to come.

“Our defense is just not good right now,” Boeheim said. “We’re just not making the reads and covering the shooters, something we’ve always been able to do and we haven’t been able to do this year.”

With five minutes left in the first half, Bowman dribbled inside the arc before lobbing a pass to Robinson near the rim. Robinson ran from the corner along the baseline and snuck behind SU center Taurean Thompson. He made the alley-oop layup, giving Boston College a 32-22 lead. Robinson and Bowman combined for 52 points and 10 3-pointers.

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“We pride ourselves on defense and that’s going to kill us every game,” sophomore forward Tyler Lydon said.

But with a poor nonconference resume, postseason hopes are already in peril and Lydon said he feels like SU’s back is against the wall. The Orange is still trying to figure out its defense and it still has a long way to go already 14 games into the year.

“If our defense wasn’t going to get better by now, it’s a long shot that it’s going to get a lot better,” Boeheim said. “It’s not just a little bit off. It’s so far off that it almost looks like we haven’t worked on it.”

Syracuse couldn’t catch a break on Sunday. While trying to defend a lob similar to the one Robinson scored on, Lydon tipped the ball into his own basket. When Bowman drove and fell down minutes later, he got his own offensive rebound from the floor and assisted on a layup at the end of the shot clock.

But even without the fluky plays, the Eagles dominated and left the Orange searching for answers.

With 2 minutes, 22 seconds remaining, Tyus Battle picked up the ball and smacked it with both hands. The level of frustration for the Orange was as high as its been all season.

“We’re not going to beat anyone if they score 90-something points,” Battle said.

Eleven days since the Orange gave up 93 to St. John’s, it gave up 96 to Boston College. Thirty-six days before that, Boeheim said his teams usually don’t lose because of defense.

This year has been different.

“I don’t really have a good explanation for it,” Boeheim said.

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