The Syracuse Men’s Basketball team went 0-2 on its trip to Brooklyn for the NIT Season Tipoff. After its double-digit lose to Oklahoma State, the Orange dropped another game to Penn State 85-64. SU now falls to 4-3 and is playing to stay above .500.
The Nittany Lions were able to capture a 15-point lead midway through first half. This was very reminiscent of the game PSU played a few nights prior. They had a large lead but let Ole Miss steal the victory. In the later half of the first and the beginning of the second, it looked like Syracuse could do something similar. Going into the locker room, the Orange went on a 12-4 run and closed in on the lead. They even opened up the half going on a 6-0 run. But all these efforts weren’t sustained and resulted in a complete collapse.
A major issue for SU down the stretch was rebounding. They were outrebounded 57-28 with a poor distribution between offensive and defensive. This has been an ongoing problem for the Orange. In the game prior, they were outrebounded by the Cowboys. Syracuse is going to have to figure out their rebounding if they want remain competitive in these games. The alternative is to make a larger percentage of their shots. With the Orange being a three-point shooting team, that seems unlikely. In this matchup, Bourama Sidibe fouled out late in the second half when the game was still within reach. Syracuse could have used his size to rebound and give them opportunities in transition if he had stayed out of foul trouble.
The X-factor for Penn State was Mike Watkins who outrebound every player on the court. Along with the offensive and defensives boards, Watkins scored 15 points and blocked four shots. All this came after he had a breakout performance in the lose against the Rebels. When he was off the SU was able to go on scoring runs because he was such a threat defensively.
Coming off his career high 28 points, Elijah Hughes scored 19 points to lead the way for Syracuse. He coupled that with four assists. It is no secret that the Orange offense flows through Hughes. It is now time for another player to step up. Buddy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj both scored double-digits but they need to increase their production as well if they want to appropriately complement Hughes.
A notable freshman was Quincy Guerrier. He lead all Orange freshman with 13 points. Throughout the game, his presence and athleticism were felt. He used his size to lead the team in rebounds and saw extended playing time because of the lack of productivity from Sidibe. Guerrier was in the game 14 minutes more than Sidibe and outscored him 13-2, outrebounded him 10-1. Guerrier showed in this game that he can compete for Sidibe spot and be an improve.
The next game for the Orange is in the Dome on Tuesday against Iowa for the Big Ten/ACC challenge.