Men’s Basketball’s Offense Falters as Georgia Tech Wins 55-51
By Christian De Guzman
ATLANTA, G.A. – Tyus Battle clutched his jersey in despair as McCamish Pavilion grew louder. Chants of “AIR BALL” rained down from the student section as he hunched over near the Syracuse bench.
Battle had just missed his 13th shot of the day and his fourth three-pointer. With 12 seconds left in the game and SU down by four, the sophomore tried to close the gap with a right-wing three. His shot completely missed the rim – the second shot that Battle had air-balled against the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech (11-11, 4-5 ACC) held on to claim a 55-51 victory over Syracuse (15-7, 4-5 ACC) on Wednesday. The Orange shot a dismal 30 percent from the floor, which is tied for the worst SU field goal percentage this season. Syracuse also recorded a 30 percent field goal percentage against St. Bonaventure in December.
“Our offense is terrible,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s been terrible all year.”
Syracuse recorded its second-lowest point total of the season against Georgia Tech. The Orange also scored the fewest amount of points this season in the first half (21). None of Syracuse’s players made more than four of their field goals on Wednesday.
“They made it tough to get into the lane because they clogged it up so much,” said Battle. “They were moving off our corner guys and just coming into the paint a little bit more. We’re gonna see that a lot.”
The Yellow Jackets’ Ben Lammers and Abdoulaye Gueye prevented the Orange from seeing success underneath the basket. Syracuse only scored 10 points in the paint, while Georgia Tech scored 30. A large portion of those paint points for the Yellow Jackets came from Tadric Jackson, who was able to get in behind the 2-3 zone and score easy buckets at the low post.
“We had to play Lammers and he’s a good player,” Boeheim said. “Our one forward got back and the other one did not and he should have.”
Lammers drew the attention of the Syracuse centers in the paint, which allowed Jackson to sneak in behind the Orange defense. It was often Lammers who would make the final pass to Jackson in the low post. Jackson finished the game with 15 points while Lammers recorded four assists.
Syracuse’s offense also has been put under scrutiny for wasting possessions with weak ball movement and isolation plays for Battle and Frank Howard. The Orange assisted on 60 percent of its baskets while Georgia Tech assisted on 81 percent of its field goals.
“We’ve gotta move better,” said Howard. “We need to get guys some better looks and [Georgia Tech] made it tough on us.”
Syracuse was also dealt a major blow to its depth before the game as Howard Washington injured his right leg in practice on Tuesday. Boeheim confirmed that Washington was “out permanently,” likely indicating that Washington was out for the rest of his freshman year. Washington had been averaging 6.1 minutes per game and 1.1 points per game. With the loss of Washington, Syracuse now only has seven players on their roster who started the season with a scholarship. Boeheim mentioned that Braedon Bayer would get more playing time as the season progresses. Bayer was recently awarded a scholarship.
The road for Syracuse doesn’t get easier as the calendar turns to February. The Orange plays No. 2 Virginia at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon, followed with Louisville at the KFC Yum Center on Monday night