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Syracuse’s Offense Stalls, Defense Unravels in Sloppy OT Loss to St. John’s

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Joe Girard (11) and Judah Mintz (3) slap hands during Syracuse's 76-69 OT loss to St. John's in the Empire Classic.

Jesse Edwards and Syracuse Men’s Basketball limped to keep themselves alive towards the end of the second half Tuesday night.

Edwards nailed two free throws to cut the Red Storm lead to 65-63 with 2:12 remaining in regulation. Less than a minute later, it was the Senior who put home a layup to tie the game at 65 after St. John’s guard Montez Mathis turned the ball over to give the ‘Cuse late life.

In the extra five minutes following the second half, it was Jim Boeheim’s team that committed the turnovers — four of them, en route to a 76-69 defeat at the Barclays Center — losing the Empire Classic championship. SU had as many turnovers as it had points in overtime Tuesday, with ten before the final five minutes for a total of 14. The Orange suffered their second defeat of the season, while the Red Storm improved to 6-0.

After being up 35-29 following the first 20 minutes, the Syracuse offense hit a roadblock. The Orange went through two scoring droughts of at least three-minutes, broken up via a put back slam dunk by center Mounir Hima, and a basket by sophomore forward Benny Williams.

Hima only mustered four points in Brooklyn Tuesday, but his defensive contributions loomed large. The sophomore center from Niger registered seven blocks against the Red Storm.

“He’s a good defensive player… he had a big effect on the game. He was very good in the first half. That’s a lot for a young player to have to do that,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said.

Sans solid scoring performances from freshman Judah Mintz and the aforementioned Edwards, a senior, the Orange had an abysmal night. SU only went 3-16 from three-point range — the lowest amount of threes made in a game since a 96-76 loss to Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, 2021. The Orange went 3-23 from beyond the arc in that game.

Speaking of Mintz, the freshman’s hot start cooled off in the final 25 minutes. After finishing the first half with 16 points — equaling his total from Monday night against Richmond — the point guard went over 22 minutes towards the end of the game without a single basket.

“Judah’s in tremendous shape. He got tired a little bit at the end, that’s to be expected,” Boeheim said.

After reaching a career-high 31 points against Richmond Monday night, Syracuse guard Joe Girard III only scored four against St. John’s. The senior went the entire first half without scoring a single basket Tuesday.

“All my teammates really did a great job tonight — It was me just letting them down,” Girard said. “I take responsibility about that for sure. It was just a night that I’m not going to want to remember and wish I could have back.”

Tuesday’s defeat by St. John’s marks the fourth straight win for the Red Storm against the Orange. The last time Syracuse lost four consecutive games to St. John’s was in 1983. In Dec. 2016, the last meeting between the two squads, SU faced a heavy 93-60 pounding. St. John’s shot 69% in the second half in that game.

Tuesday night was also the first time SU played back to back overtime games since 2009’s Big East tournament. One of those games being the memorable six-overtime game against UConn at Madison Square Garden — a game Syracuse won, 127-117. The last time the Orange and the Red Storm played each other in overtime was in 2001. Syracuse eeked out a 93-91 victory on the road.

Syracuse Men’s Basketball’s next game is Saturday, Nov. 26 against Bryant at 4 p.m. Our coverage begins at 3:30 on WAER with McClurg Team Countdown to Tip-Off.