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SU Men’s Basketball Overwhelmed by No. 6 Villanova, 67-53

Syracuse forward Jimmy Boeheim (0, white) attempts to drive for a shot against Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels (23, navy).
Cuse.com
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Syracuse forward Jimmy Boeheim (0, white) attempts to drive for a shot against Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels (23, navy).

Syracuse men’s basketball dropped a hard-fought game against a ranked opponent last night. WAER’s Carter Bainbridge recaps how the Orange struggled against a former Big East rival.

Coming off two straight wins, Syracuse men’s basketball (5-4, 1-0 ACC) traveled down to Madison Square Garden to take on an old Big East rival. The Villanova Wildcats (7-2, 0-0 Big East) entered ranked No. 6 in the nation and eventually looked the part after struggling in the first half.

Syracuse’s loss against Villanova dropped the Orange’s record against ranked teams so far in 2021-22 to 0-2. Early on in the game, SU seemed to be matching Villanova step-for-step. Former Wildcat and current Syracuse forward Cole Swider opened the game with a three-pointer as the two teams played a high-scoring first few minutes. However, the game would slow down as both the Orange and Wildcats struggled to score from anywhere on the floor. Syracuse ended up shooting 35.7% on the night, while Villanova shot just 32.5%. At halftime, the score stood at 29-26 in favor of Syracuse.

SU guard Joe Girard (11, white) tries to put up a shot against Villanova forward Brandon Slater (3, navy). Against the Wildcats, Girard finished second on the team in points with 11.
Cuse.com
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SU guard Joe Girard (11, white) tries to put up a shot against Villanova forward Brandon Slater (3, navy). Against the Wildcats, Girard finished second on the team in points with 11.

However, the second half was where the game seemed to change. Despite shooting 40% on three-pointers as a team entering Wednesday, the Wildcats uncharacteristically struggled to the tune of 5-28 shooting from three-point range in the first half. Despite the cold start, Villanova came out firing in the second half to catch up to SU and gradually overcome the deficit. Despite an off night from star guard Collin Gillespie (5-14 shooting, 14 points), the Wildcats eventually got enough from their outside attack and outrebounded Syracuse 57-36. Despite hitting just 26% from range on the evening, Villanova set a program record with 50 three-point shots taken in a single game. The ‘Cats finished with four players with at least nine attempts from three-point distance.

“I think the one thing that hurt us tonight is the rebounding aspect, and they were really quick to the ball,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “Five of them are physical strong guys, and they just beat us on second shots.”

As the Wildcats emerged, the Orange seemed to slow down thanks to poor nights from some of their shooters. Despite his early three, forward Cole Swider finished just 2-7 from the field with five points. Senior guard Buddy Boeheim similarly struggled, finishing 3-15 from the field including an 0-5 mark from outside the arc. Most of the scoring was done by junior guard Joe Girard (4-7 on field goals, 11 points) and graduate forward Jimmy Boeheim (10-19 FG, 21 points), but the production was too limited to help an otherwise lacking effort from SU’s offense. Syracuse finished with zero points from its bench and saw its talented free-throw shooting taken out of the game - only one player (center Jesse Edwards) attempted even a single free throw in the contest.

Syracuse’s loss drops the team to 5-4 with another former Big East rivalry game approaching. The Orange travel to Georgetown on December 11th to take on the Hoyas at Capital One Arena. Tipoff for that game is at 12:00 p.m., and WAER’s coverage begins that day at 11:30 a.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.