Men’s Basketball Falters in Second Half of Regular Season Finale
By Luke McGrath
CLEMSON, S.C. – A dominant second half effort from the Clemson Tigers (19-12, 9-9 Atlantic Coast) took down the Syracuse Men’s Basketball team (19-12, 10-8 ACC) 67-55 Saturday afternoon in both squad’s regular season finales.
Syracuse has now finished its last six regular season games with 2-4 record seven seasons in a row.
In what was a critically important game in terms of rounding out NCAA tournament resumes, the Orange faltered conceding a 14-0 run early in the second half that they were never able to recover from.
The two main factors in the second half that propelled the Tigers to victory were an unconscious Marcquise Reed – who scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half – and a poor rebounding effort that allowed Clemson to grab eight more offensive boards than SU.
After the game freshman guard Buddy Boeheim said instead of regrouping from a hot second half start by the Tigers they let their mistakes compound allowing the game to quickly become out of reach.
“They were just playing with a lot of fire, I mean they had a lot to play for and when they started making shots their confidence was going and they just started playing hard and playing very good solid defense,” Buddy said.
That good solid defense held the Orange to shoot just 7 for 21 from the field for 24 second half points. Aside from the rebounding effort, Head Coach Jim Boeheim was most distraught with his upper classman guards Tyus Battle and Frank Howard’s inability to penetrate saying it limits their ability to score and also their ability to create shots for others.
“They’re veteran guys, obviously we need them to play better,” Boeheim said.
Battle finished the game with 10 points while Howard contributed three, both only registered one assist in the losing effort.
After the game, sophomore forward Oshae Brissett, who finished with a team high 15 points, emphasized the importance of playing a complete game.
“We’ve just got to find it in ourselves to keep going for all 40 minutes, we can’t just get complacent with what we did in the first half, we’ve just got to keep attacking and you know that starts on the defensive end with rebounds,” Brissett said.
With the loss the ACC Tournament becomes much more important for Syracuse as a first game exit would likely make their post-season aspirations come into question. Projecting how the NCAA Tournament field will shake out is extremely difficult and complicated, however Boeheim was sure to voice his displeasure with the NCAA’s new NET rating system.
“It goes against exactly opposite of what we’ve done for the last 20-30 years and it rewards people for playing nobody and having good efficiency against them,” Boeheim said. “Figuring out how it’s going to happen this year will be a puzzle.”
That puzzle still has some pieces left that need to be placed. Conference tournaments still need to be played and “bid stealers” still need to win conference championships but Syracuse can still play their way back into a comfortable automatic bid with a few wins in the ACC Tournament.
That campaign will kick off Wednesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina where the No. 6 seed Orange will host the winner of Boston College and Pittsburgh in the second round with tipoff estimated for around 9 p.m.
Tyus Battle took a hard fall midway through the second half on a drive to the basket. Battle limped it off and shortly re-entered the game but appeared to be in serious pain in the locker room afterwards.
Paschal Chukwu also exited the game in the second half, he had a right foot injury.
Lumcgrat@syr.edu | @L_McGrath14