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ZONED OUT: Syracuse Holds Off Hoyas, 83-64

Hoyas shoot 29% from the field in the second half

Georgetown v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

After a spirited start, the Georgetown Hoyas fell at longtime rival, the Syracuse Orange, 83-64.

Jesse Edwards led the Orange with 20 points (10-14 FG) and 11 rebounds, while Judah Mintz (16 pts), Joe Girard (15 pts) and Benny Williams (13 pts) all finished in double figures for Syracuse. The Orange had 46 points in the paint.

Primo Spears led the Hoyas with 22 points, while Jay Heath added 14 and Qudus Wahab had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Mutombo did not make the trip to Syracuse for personal reasons.

Georgetown’s problem with holding a lead reared its head early on Saturday. The Hoyas started the game on a 9-0 run and led 17-6 after six minutes, with three-pointers from Spears, Brandon Murray and Heath. Syracuse immediately answered with a 12-0 run, taking the lead 18-17 on a Girard runner at the 9:51 mark. Wahab answered with a 3-point play to make it 20-18.

The game waffled back-and-forth for the next five minutes, with 9 lead changes and no team taking more than a three-point lead. Georgetown’s half-court offense was adept for the first 15 minutes of the half at breaking down Syracuse’s forever 2-3 zone, as the Hoyas moved the ball well and kept the game tight. Heath steadied the offense with 11 points in the half, playing for his third different team against Syracuse (he previously played for Boston College and Arizona State).

The last five minutes of the half were an utter disaster for the Hoyas, as Syracuse went on a 16-4 run to take a 45-34 lead at halftime. It was a combination of bad transition defense, turnovers, and puzzling mistakes that enabled Cuse’s run. Georgetown’s frustrating season thus could best be summed up with an individual play from the Orange’s run, in which Wahab was able to capitalize on a put-back dunk to cut the Orange lead to 41-32, but was immediately called for a technical foul for taunting the Syracuse bench. A technical for taunting when down 9. Puzzling. Syracuse ended the half with 15 points on Georgetown’s 9 first-half turnovers.

Georgetown’s start to the second half was flat, with Syracuse extending the lead to 50-34, but the Hoyas were able to tighten up their defense and go on an 8-2 run to get it to 52-42, and highly-recruited Denver Anglin finally entered the game at the 15:41 mark to cut the lead to 8 points on a nice entry pass to Bradley Ezewiro. Syracuse continued to keep the Hoyas at bay, however, pushing the lead to 13 on a few John Bol Ajak free throws after a hard Wahab foul at the 12:34 mark.

Georgetown never cut the lead below seven points the rest of the way. They missed nine straight threes in the second half. Murray and Wahab played with four fouls each the final 9 minutes of the game.

Coach Patrick Ewing continued to maintain a tight rotation, with Akok Akok, Heath, Spears and Wahab all logging 30+ minutes, and no Hoya other than Murray eclipsing 11 minutes of game time. The exclamation point on the Syracuse win came at the 3:20 mark, when Benny Williams dunked home a loose ball that multiple Hoyas were close to, but none dove for or retrieved.

As the Hoyas enter conference play, this writer has one hope: more minutes for Denver Anglin and Jordan Riley. The team sorely needs better defense and shooting. Riley is a skilled, physical defender at multiple spots, and Anglin was heralded out of high school as a top shooter. Fatigue is surely going to play a role if four to five guys continue to log all meaningful Hoya minutes – it’s time to play the younger guys.

The Hoyas return to action on Friday at 6:30 ET at Sean Miller-led Xavier (6-3), whose three losses have come by single-digits to #14 Indiana, #15 Duke, and #18 Gonzaga.