Men's Basketball

What we learned from Syracuse’s 83-73 loss at Virginia Tech

Colin Davy | Asst. Photo Editor

Tyus Battle contributed 13 points in the loss.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Syracuse (10-7, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) dropped to .500 in the ACC with an 83-73 loss at Virginia Tech (13-3, 2-2) on Tuesday night at Cassell Coliseum. The loss was the Orange’s second road loss in league play. SU’s point guards struggled, Tyler Lydon played through an injury and the Hokies press stunted SU’s offensive flow.

Here are three things we learned from the game.


Syracuse’s point guard issues still aren’t solved

After John Gillon’s two best performances of the season in back-to-back wins over Miami and Pittsburgh, he seemed to have a grip as the Orange’s go-to point guard. But SU’s point guard issues cropped up again on Tuesday night as both Gillon and Frank Howard were ineffective.

“Our point guard play has been really good and was as bad as it’s ever been tonight,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I don’t have an explanation for that.”

In the first half, Gillon was 0-for-3 from the field with two turnovers and no assists. Boeheim said he “can’t play that way.” His struggles continued in the second half as the Orange never sustained an effective offensive flow. Gillon had seemingly won sole possession of point guard duties, but was relieved by Howard for 13 minutes on Tuesday.

Howard, however, wasn’t effective either. He went 1-for-5 from the field and the duo finished 3-for-14 from the field with seven assists and two turnovers, still not good enough to provide stability at the most important position on the floor.

“I thought the first half, he was OK,” Boeheim said of Howard. “I think the second half, he was trying to prove he can’t shoot jump shots.”

Boeheim ‘probably’ shouldn’t have played Tyler Lydon after injury

Boeheim called Lydon the Orange’s best player after the game on Tuesday and not having him at full strength affected SU. He landed on a defender’s foot and rolled his left ankle after attempting a fadeaway baseline jumper with over four minutes left in the first half.

“It was bothering me, but I just tried playing through it,” Lydon said. “It didn’t work out too well.”

Lydon finished with two points, tied for a season low, on 1-of-5 shooting. He grabbed seven rebounds but wasn’t able to play at his best throughout the second half.

“He said he was alright,” Boeheim said. “I watched him and I probably should have just not played him but he said he was fine. But players are going to say that.”

Lydon said he’s unsure of his status going forward. The Orange’s next game is on Saturday at home against Boston College.

Virginia Tech’s press should have led to easy baskets for Syracuse

SU faced Virginia Tech’s press after most of their made baskets throughout the game. While SU broke it and got the ball across halfcourt most of the time, it stunted Syracuse’s flow on the offensive end. The Hokies forced 11 turnovers and scored 17 points off them.

Gillon was often double-teamed as his teammates tried inbounding the ball and he had to run into open space just to receive the pass. VT often had multiple players in the frontcourt, leaving the far end of the court vulnerable. Tyus Battle said the traps that Virginia Tech threw at Syracuse should have led to easy scores in transition. But as SU focused on protecting the ball and getting it across halfcourt, it didn’t get open looks from point-blank range.

“We missed out on those opportunities a little bit,” Battle said. “We have to take advantage of those the next time we play a team that presses us like that.”


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