Men's Basketball

Carter-Williams inconsistent on offensive end in win over Seton Hall

Lauren Murphy | Staff Photographer

Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams struggled from the field – making just three shots – but went 8-for-10 at the free throw line.

NEWARK, N.J. — The formula to frustrate Michael Carter-Williams is no secret. It’s been in place since Syracuse’s first loss to Temple back in December.

Force the 6-foot-6 point guard to shoot – from long range or in close – and take away his passing lanes. The strategy’s been adopted by each Big East opponent thus far – the latest being Seton Hall on Saturday night – and it’s revealed the flaws in his game that remained hidden as he racked up assist after assist in nonconference play.

“They’re making him go to the basket and not coming off to help,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s not driving and shooting and passing somebody up, there’s nobody open. They forced him to shoot really from the Temple game on and you’re not going to get assists if they’re going to do that.”

Carter-Williams shot 30 percent from the field and finished with just three assists in the Orange’s 76-65 win over the Pirates at the Prudential Center on Saturday. He managed to score 14 points – a total boosted by his 8-for-10 performance from the foul line – and grab nine rebounds, but his offensive game was inconsistent as it has been throughout conference play.

All three of Carter-Williams’ field goals came in the first half. All three were dunks – one off an offensive rebound and the other two on alley-oops in transition.

From that point, Carter-Williams missed his final seven shots in the game.

He had no trouble getting to the rim for opportunities, but his ability to finish was nonexistent. On one drive down the lane, Carter-Williams left all defenders behind and soared to the rim above every other player, his right arm fully extended. His length and athleticism were on display, but he left the layup attempt short.

“I took some tough shots today that I think I could have done something a little different,” Carter-Williams said. “But it’s all about learning and going on to the next game.”

The learning process has been ongoing since Temple upset SU at Madison Square Garden and forced Carter-Williams into 17 shots. He only made three that day, as the Owls decided to make him beat them with his scoring ability.

Pittsburgh held him to two assists in its win over the Orange in early February. In SU’s latest loss to Connecticut on Wednesday, he only dished out one assist – a season-low.

He said he’s still adjusting to the defensive approach his opponents have taken. The point guard is still focused on getting his teammates involved while taking the open shot when it’s there, but it hasn’t been easy for him.

“He’s got to be able to finish if they’re not going to respect his offense,” Boeheim said. “He’s got to find that, but it’s hard to get a lot of assists in some of these games if they’re playing like that.”

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