Syracuse Enters Must-Win Mode Against Wake Forest
Syracuse may have hit rock bottom on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, but SU has a chance for a bounce-back resume win against Wake Forest on Saturday night. WAER's Ethan Frank looks at how the last matchup between these two things played out, and how the Orange can save their season.
For the second time this season, Syracuse men’s basketball faces Wake Forest, this time at the Carrier Dome. The Demon Deacons took down the Orange 77-74 in overtime back on Jan. 8. Jimmy Boeheim led SU in scoring with 21 points, and Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard III, and Cole Swider joined him in double figures.
Based on those numbers, one might think this could be trending well for a Syracuse win. That would simply be incorrect. The Orange are coming off an embarrassing 64-53 loss against Pittsburgh, while the Deacs havewon six of their past seven games. Not just that, Wake has won each of its last three games by 16 or more points.
On the Wake side, Alondes Williams had a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Isaiah Mucius added 18 points for the Deacs. Syracuse was able to surprisingly win the rebounding battle 49-42, and Wake also missed nine free throws, but SU was not able to close out the win.
With Torrence likely unavailable against the Deacs, it will be interesting to see how Boeheim allocates the minutes. His strategy clearly failed against Pittsburgh, because trying to play his starters the entire game with minimal substitutions backfired in the second half.
This matchup is truly two teams going in opposite directions. Syracuse is headed into a tailspin, and while yes Symir Torrence did not play against the Panthers, he should not matter that much where the offense is dead without him. Wake, on the other hand, has won the most ACC games in the conference this season
Interestingly, the last time these teams matched up, Benny Williams played a season-high 24 minutes because of Jesse Edwards' foul trouble. Torrence only played five, and Jim Boeheim has since utilized a three-guard lineup before the transfer guard’s injury against Duke.
Boeheim was very critical of Girard and Edwards in his postgame press conference after the Pittsburgh game. Both struggled mightily against the physical defense and intensity of the Panthers.
The Orange have to win this game to have any shot at recharging their NCAA Tournament chances because soon enough, the only way in is going to be winning the ACC Tournament. Quality wins are hard to come by, but this Saturday represents an opportunity for SU.
On a side note, Syracuse fans will be excited for a couple of guests this weekend, as two-time NBA MVP and Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis will be in attendance at the Dome on Saturday night.
Tip-off between Syracuse and Wake Forest is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday as WAER’s coverage of the game starts with GZA Countdown to tip-off at 7:30.