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Syracuse Loses Third Straight Game, Falls to No. 16 Illinois 73-44

Joe Girard (11) slaps hands with Judah Mintz. Girard finished with 0 points in 21 minutes.
@Cuse_MBB on Twitter
Joe Girard (11) slaps hands with Judah Mintz. Girard finished with 0 points in 21 minutes.

In the last week, there has been little upside for Syracuse Men’s Basketball.

Outside of 20 points against St. John’s for freshman point guard Judah Mintz, seven blocks against the Red Storm for sophomore center Mounir Hima, and 25 points for freshman guard Justin Taylor against Bryant last Saturday, there have been a lot of negatives.

Tuesday night, those negatives continued — as Illinois (6-1 overall) defeated the Orange (3-4 overall), 73-44 at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.

The last time SU scored fewer than 44 points was on Nov. 6, 2019. The Orange lost a season-opening, low-scoring affair against Virginia, losing 48-34 at home. At that time, that was the lowest point total for a Syracuse team since before the now-JMA Wireless Dome even opened in 1980.

Not a single Syracuse player reached ten points Tuesday. The aforementioned Mintz and senior center Jesse Edwards led the Orange with nine. Forwards Benny Williams and Chris Bell had eight points each. The aforementioned Justin Taylor finished with six points.

For Edwards, his rebounding against Illinois Tuesday night was the continuation of his performance against Bryant. Edwards finished with 17 rebounds — with 13 of those being defensive. Saturday against Bryant, the senior finished with 21 boards — 13 of those being defensive as well.

While the Orange kept the Fighting Illini to just over 70 points, they did let some of Brad Underwood’s players run wild.

Junior forward Coleman Hawkins had a triple-double against Syracuse — scoring 15 points, and putting up ten assists and ten rebounds.

“After I saw my first half stats, I knew it was possible, so I played for that in the second half and so happy it fell that way,” Hawkins said.

“We did a better job in the first half on him.. but defensively we are not as good as we need to be, we didn’t do a good job in there, and he played really well,” head coach Jim Boeheim, who only took and answered four questions post-game, said.

Senior guard Terrance Shannon, Jr. led his team with 17 points. Sophomore guard RJ Melendez had 15 points.

After the game, Hawkins said it was an issue of forcing SU to a higher tempo.

“(Syracuse) guys are more catch and shoot guys, so contesting shots, speeding them up more was our goal," he said.

The story for Syracuse continues to be one of cold spells and immaturity. After a career-high against St. John’s, senior guard Joe Girard III has hit a hard cold spell over the past couple of games. Girard went 1-for-12 from the field against Bryant, only scoring five points in 36 minutes on the floor.

Tuesday, Girard saw the floor only about half what he saw against Bryant. The senior played only 20 minutes — not scoring once, going 0-for-3 from the field with a turnover.

“He’s just not playing well and isn’t stepping up by doing anything else,” Boeheim said.

For the second straight game, SU also had a player ejected. Sophomore Benny Williams was ejected late in the second half after complaining to a referee about what he saw as a no-call. Williams received a double-technical, leading to his ejection.

On Saturday, Judah Mintz was ejected after slapping Bryant guard Doug Edert, which led to both benches clearing.

“Benny was childish and immature losing his temper," Boeheim said. "He’s a good kid, but did play terrible.” .

Syracuse Men’s Basketball faces Notre Dame Saturday at noon. Our coverage on WAER begins at 11:30 a.m. with McClurg Team Countdown to Tip-Off.