Syracuse offense shut down at North Carolina State in 73-58 loss

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ RALEIGH, N.C. — Oshae Brissett’s early foul trouble and Tyus Battle’s struggle to score brought Syracuse to a screeching halt. There was usually nowhere to go, no room to run. It started with a series of early misses, continued with stagnant ball movement and accelerated with contested miss after contested miss. The Orange were shaken.The end result left Syracuse with little to show on the scoreboard Wednesday night at PNC Arena. SU (17-8, 8-4 Atlantic Coast) couldn’t crack the North Carolina State (18-7, 6-6) defense, which entered the game ranked last in the conference in points allowed per game. The Orange fell, 73-58. Senior point guard Frank Howard represented the lone bright spot, scoring a season-high 21 points. He was the only SU player to knock down a 3-pointer. Everybody else combined for 37 points.“It’s just one of those games offensively,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I thought their defense was really good … Part of it is, your offense goes bad and I think you lose focus sometimes.”“We’re just not going to win with offense like that,” Boeheim added. “You have to get over it and have short-term memory.”Syracuse and NC State play distinct styles, one with a 2-3 zone that likes to go slow, the other an up-tempo, man-to-man unit that likes to run. A lot. When the Orange have controlled tempo and slowed the pace, they’ve positioned themselves to win. Not Wednesday. The pace was slow, favoring the Orange, and they still struggled to score. Syracuse didn’t generate much offense in the half court, scoring a large chunk of its points off 20 NCSU turnovers.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJunior guard Tyus Battle didn’t shoot until nine minutes into the game and didn’t record a point until the seven-minute mark in the first half. He finished with seven points for Syracuse team that’s dropped three of its last six. In double-digit losses to Virginia Tech and now NC State, Battle’s been held to less than 10 points.Syracuse hasn’t reached the 70-point mark in any of its last four games, two of which were wins against the conference’s weaker teams (Boston College and Pittsburgh). Ranked teams loom in the coming weeks, and they’ll come on fast with defenses that don’t relent.Players have said the offense is just fine, that the plays are there and the shots are open. But Wednesday was an entirely different offense than in recent weeks, underperforming against one of the lesser defenses they’ll see the rest of the season. Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts labeled the game as NCSU’s best defensive outing of the season.“They packed the paint,” said Howard, who shot 5-of-11 from deep. “They cut the lanes. Kudos to them, they played great. We made it easy for them. We didn’t move. We were stagnant. They gave a lot of pressure the whole game, and they didn’t let up.”“When we get movement, we get outcomes. When we don’t, we’re going to lose, he added.”Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorThroughout the game, Howard said, SU tried to create more space on ball screens and keep the forwards down longer, hoping to get more space up top. The mid-game tweak didn’t work, either.The Orange’s go-to — and, at times, only — play has been the pick-and-roll. But teams are hedging more this year, players said. The lob to senior center Paschal Chukwu that a year ago became a fall back off the screen-and-roll has no longer been an option. As a result, opposing guards and forwards apply more pressure to SU’s top scorers.“We have to attack in different ways,” Howard said.With signature wins at then-No. 1 Duke and at then-No. 16 Ohio State, Syracuse appears to be on pace to make the NCAA Tournament — despite four nonconference losses. Six games remain on the regular-season schedule, including No. 16 Louisville and No. 2 Duke next week, followed by No. 8 North Carolina and No. 4 Virginia. The other two games — at Wake Forest and at Clemson — come on the road in early March. Far from easy wins.Which made SU’s chance against the unranked Wolfpack all the more significant. Syracuse had won 10 of 13 games, but the Orange met a once-ranked ACC foe. While NCSU’s defense ranks dead last in the conference, its starting lineup features a trio of guards — C.J. Bryce, Markell Johnson and Braxton Beverly — who each make more than 38 percent of their 3-point attempts. But NCSU shot 3-of-12 from deep in the first half and finished the night a modest 5-of-18.The issue wasn’t NCSU’s offense, which produced 73 points. It was SU’s. Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett, who’d posted three-straight double-doubles, got into foul trouble early. He finished with two points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward Marek Dolezaj added 10 points.“They were waiting for us to drive, especially Oshae,” said Chukwu, who scored two points. “They were packing the middle, waiting for him to drive and forcing us to shoot. Our shots just didn’t fall.”The Orange shot 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep. They were relegated to a makeshift lineup — 10 players saw the floor in the first half for the first time all season. The new faces didn’t produce, and the mainstays didn’t do much of it either. “Air ball! Air ball!” the NCSU student section yelled after an Elijah Hughes bricked 3-pointer.Asked about the SU offense last month, former Syracuse star Eric Devendorf didn’t hesitate. “Stagnant,” he said. “It’s just pass, pick, cut. Pass, pick, cut.” It thrives in one-on-one situations. Yet the combination of little movement and missed shots leads to outcomes like Wednesday, when the Orange don’t eclipse the 60-point mark.center_img Published on February 13, 2019 at 10:08 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21last_img