Syracuse 81- BC 63
The Eagles had early success against the zone in this one and were able to find open shooters hanging around the 3-point line while the Orange defense swarmed to the ball. They were a perfect four for their first four from deep. As the half wore on and Syracuse corrected their defenseive lapses on the outside, BC began to struggle. Orange center Paschal Chukwu harassed Nik Popovic and Johncarlos Reyes under the rim and BC’s attempts to whip the ball back outside resulted in several unforced turnovers. The Eagle defense looked a step too slow, failing to close the gap to contest shots. They upped the defensive intensity and rebounding in the final two minutes and knocked down a pair of 3s to reduce the Orange lead, which had been as much as 16, to 47-37 at the half.
The game went from bad to worse in the second half. Steffon Mitchell took a hard elbow to the head in the first half, and did not return for the second. Luka Kraljevic saw substantial minutes, along with Reyes, Ervins Meznieks, and Vin Baker Jr. Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman never stopped battling, finishing with 21 and 20 respectively, but the offense as a whole could not establish any real rhythm against the Syracuse zone. The defensive effort was one of the worst this season, and Syracuse was able to do what they wanted with the ball for the most part; they shot better than 60% the entire game. The end result was an 81-63 victory for the Orange.
This 0-2 road stretch is disappointing but by no means a cue to panic for BC fans. Louisville and Syracuse are both solid, athletic ACC opponents who were favored going in. BC is about where many predicted them at this point in the season, with five winnable home games and a should-win game at Pitt still on the schedule. If they scoop up five of six of those and maybe add another road steal, that would put them at nine conference wins- a huge step forward from recent years. Still, this effort shone the light on some possible red flags. You have to wonder if fatigue is starting to take its toll on the thin BC lineup. As others have pointed out on this site, BC is almost dead last in the country last in bench minutes played this year. Bowman and Mitchell have been knocked around in the last few games and Robinson has been battling illness. A combination of weary starters and inexperienced reserves being called on for more playing time is yielding offensive turnovers and mistakes on defense. The team will have a full week off to regroup and the Conte Forum faithful behind them for Virginia Tech on January 31st. It is not time to panic yet, but we will all breathe a sigh of relief if they put together a solid win next week.