The Syracuse Orange’s hopes of a national championship came crashing down to reality after a 62-46 defeat at the hands of the Houston Cougars on Saturday night. Although the Orange widely qualified as an underdog in this year’s tournament, the loss for many fans comes as a complete heartbreaker. Had they defeated the Cougars, the Orange would have possessed a great chance at making the final four for the first time since 2016. However, all good things must come to an end in real life, including what goes on in the world of college basketball. We will admit we wish things had ended differently, but it’s important that we give you a recap anyway. Without further ado, let’s break down how Saturday night’s game played out.
Unlike their previous games in the tournament, Syracuse started off the first half against Houston somewhat sluggish. The Orange’s early shooting struggles proved to be detrimental, as they trailed by as many as 12 with 10 minutes to go in the first half. However, the Orange quickly fought back, limiting Houston to only 3 points in a span of 7 minutes. Even with the ‘Cuse continuing to struggle from the field, the team managed to tie the game at 20 apiece due to their notorious zone defense. Sadly, a reversal of fortune occurred again, as the Cougars closed out the first half with a 10-0 scoring run. At the intermission, the score was 30-20 in favor of Houston.
Although the second half saw more offensive action than the first, the Orange still struggled to make shots. The Cougars found the secret formula to shutting down Buddy Boeheim, as the senior struggled immensely from behind the arc. Other players did try to step up for the Orange, but the team was never able to cut the Houston advantage below six points. As time passed by, the Cougars played even better defensively, limiting the Orange to only 2 points within a span of 7 minutes. The result was a tired and confused Orange team that eventually gave way to another quick Houston scoring run. When everything was said and done, Syracuse closed the book on their season with a program low 46 points in an NCAA Tournament game.
Key Contributors for Syracuse
For the Orange, no one achieved the feat of standing out in the scoring category. Guards Buddy Boeheim and Joseph Giard III led the team with 12 points apiece, but even their numbers do not qualify as impressive. Prior to Saturday’s matchup, Boeheim had scored 25 or more points in each of his last 4 games. However, the senior could never establish consistency against the Cougars, going 3-for-13 (23%) on field goals and 1-for-9 (11.1%) from downtown. Unfortunately, his last game in the Orange uniform was also one of his most disappointing.
The other starting senior for the Orange did not do so well either, as Marek Dolezaj proved to be virtually nonexistent throughout the night. Despite usually having a big presence as a big man, Dolezaj contributed only 2 points and rebounds in his 35 minutes of playing time. Just like Boeheim, his last game with the ‘Cuse qualified as forgettable.
Key Contributors for Houston
The Cougars provided a fairly balanced effort scoring-wise. Quentin Grimes led the team in shooting with 14 points, going 5-for-15 (33.3%) on field goals and 4-for-12 (33.3%) on three-pointers. His efforts at the guard position were accompanied by Marcus Sasser, a sophomore who knocked down 12 points on the night. Sasser went 5-for-15 (33%) on field goals and 2-for-9 (22.2%) from downtown. Senior Justin Gorham did the heavy lifting at the forward position, contributing a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
With Syracuse’s tournament run now over, a long and grueling offseason lies ahead for Jim Boeheim and company. The Orange will have a very different team next year, especially with senior stars Buddy Boeheim and Marek Dolezaj on their way out. Like always, the offseason will consist of recruiting and decisive planning for next year’s road ahead. However, before we close the book on this year’s Orange, it’s still imperative to understand the feats of this team. Syracuse played their hearts out and reached the sweet 16 as an 11 seed, something very few teams in March Madness can say. On top of that, the Orange qualify as only one of two ACC teams that made it past the first two rounds of the tournament. So, it may have not ended the way we wanted it to, Syracuse still had another fantastic season.
3,295 total views, 1 views today