MBB : Wichita State’s 27-1 run too much for SU to overcome
For 11 minutes and 15 seconds of the first half of Saturday’s 64-61 loss to Wichita State, Syracuse experienced the basketball equivalent to the perfect storm. Its offense couldn’t score. Its defense couldn’t stop. Together, it made the longest 11 minutes of Syracuse’s season.
Josh Wright hit a driving lay-up 4:10 into the game to give SU a three-point lead. From that lay-up to a Demetris Nichols 3-pointer with 5:35 remaining in the first half, SU scored just one point-an Eric Devendorf free throw at 12:09. During that 11:15, the Shockers scored 27 points.
SU was winning 11-8 when Wright hit the lay-up. It was losing 35-12 by the time Nichols hit the 3-pointer. That 27-1 run was just enough of a margin to hold off the Orange.
‘We’ve had that happen before,’ Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘Maybe not that bad, but we’re not executing on offense and we made some poor defensive plays and we just kept making mistakes on both ends.’
SU shot 0-for-11 during that stretch. Wichita State shot 11-for-19, including five 3-pointers. The Orange couldn’t find a defense to properly stop the Shockers’ well-balanced attack. Six different players scored during WSU’s run, and none scored more than eight points.
‘We struggled in every type of defense we ran,’ senior forward Terrence Roberts said. ‘We struggled in our man-to-man. We didn’t talk during screens or when we switched our guys. Guys got wide open shots. We did a poor job in our zone getting through screens, a poor job taking away their slashing. We have to work hard on not allowing those things to happen.’
On offense, SU fell into the trap of playing 1-on-1 and not 5-on-5. It was also stuck in a half-court offense for much of those 11 minutes, stalling any opportunity for a shift in momentum. The Orange’s advantage over the Shockers was its athleticism and size, but it managed only five fast-break points in the first half. In SU’s second-half comeback, it had 13 fast-break points.
‘We were focused on the game, we just kind of forgot about our assignments,’ Wright said. ‘A good team like that will capitalize on our mistakes.’
After the game, Boeheim’s main source of frustration was SU’s slow starts throughout the season. On Saturday, SU at least started off well-it scored 11 points in the first 4:10 and hit four of its first seven shots. The problem was once Wichita State started scoring, SU had no answer.
Devendorf, who Boeheim said was sick on Saturday, was playing limited minutes. Nichols was cold throughout the game and missed three shots during the Shockers’ run. Roberts and center Darryl Watkins were attempting jumpers, which aren’t the bright parts of either of their games.
The entire first half-and especially the 27-1 run-was a microcosm of the Orange’s woes early in the season. And while they’re certainly not as bad as the 27-1 run, it did expose SU’s early-season weaknesses.
‘We just didn’t have good movement, we weren’t in sync and we weren’t screening well,’ Boeheim said. ‘Our big guys were taking jump shots and we can’t win with that. I don’t think our execution has been good all year on offense.
‘We’re making some bad turnovers, we’re not getting good movement, we’re not getting good execution, we’re not screening well. It’s mostly offensively, some defensively but generally if your offense isn’t good your defense struggles sometimes too, it shouldn’t but it generally does.’
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