Syracuse men's basketball looks to rebound after Duke loss
Syracuse men’s basketball (16-11, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell to Duke (19-8, 10-6 ACC) last Saturday 77-55, ending a three-game win streak. That makes it eight straight losses against the Blue Devils.
Luckily for the Orange, they have a mid-week game coming up to shift the narrative. However, after sticking at home for two straight games, Syracuse is on the road for the next two.
SU travels down to South Carolina on Wednesday to take on Clemson, and then to Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Tigers are no easier matchup than the Blue Devils. Clemson (19-8, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) stands at fourth in the ACC.
“They [Clemson and Pittsburgh] are two physical teams and we’re going to have to be more physical in those situations,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after the 22-point loss to Duke.
A huge reason for the Tigers’ success this season is their defense, especially in the paint. Clemson holds its opponents to just over a 40-percent field goal percentage, the lowest in the conference. It also grabs the second-most defensive rebounds, averaging nearly 28 per game.
Despite the strength on the defensive end, the Tigers have only won once in their last five contests. They’re also coming off of a drastic loss to a struggling Louisville team that’s only won four times this entire season.
The Cardinals defeated the Tigers on Saturday 83-73, marking Louisville’s first victory in six games. Clemson made just four shots out of 24 from beyond the arc.
Even with the loss, Tigers’ PJ Hall matched his career high, and tallied a new season high of 28 points. The South Carolinean averages just over 15 points per game.
The 6-foot-10 center will definitely be a player for Syracuse to look out for. Hall is also going to be a good matchup for the Orange’s 6-foot-11 center Jesse Edwards.
After hitting double digits in four straight games, Edwards only scored five points against Duke on Saturday. In SU’s 75-72 win over NC State last week, the Dutchman recorded 18 points and 16 rebounds.
“We need [Edwards] to be a factor on the offensive end,” Boeheim said after the Duke game.
The leading scorer for the Orange against the Blue Devils was senior Joe Girard III. The guard hit 21 points. Freshman Judah Mintz was nearly there with him, with 18 points on the night.
LISTEN: The Orange were desperate for some offense and freshman Judah Mintz was there to make a clutch basket. @Calchristo1 was on the call.— WAER Sports (@WAERSports) February 19, 2023
🎙️@waer883, https://t.co/BG0Q3sGq3P pic.twitter.com/eeuEoPBsQf
The rookie has now scored double figures in the last eight matchups. Mintz ranks 12th in the conference scoring, draining just over 15 points per game.
“Judah has played as well as you could ask a point guard to play,” Boeheim said.
Girard III and Mintz lead the Orange in scoring with 17 and just under 16 points per game, respectively. The senior-freshman guard duo has been an integral part of the Syracuse team this year.
Syracuse will need a strong night from both guards going up against this Clemson defense. Additionally, a big presence from Edwards against Hall — both offensively and defensively — could help SU get back into the win column.
The Orange and the Tigers have only met a total of 12 times. Each team has six wins over the other. Last season, Syracuse came away with a 91-78 victory over Clemson - one of SU’s only nine conference victories last season. Edwards tallied 11 rebounds against the Tigers last year and Girard III hit 23 points.
With a current 9-7 conference record headed into Wednesday, the Orange have a chance to top last year’s season. Tipoff between the two squads is at 7 p.m. down in Clemson. WAER’s coverage begins with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff at 6:30.