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LINKS: Hoyas Fight Back Against Syracuse, Not Enough

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Georgetown’s poor finish before halftime, turnovers down the stretch hamper comeback

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Georgetown Hoyas made the trip to upstate New York to face forever rivals, the Syracuse Orange, losing 69-74, despite the Hoyas showing some toughness in battling back from a 16-point deficit to come within 3 with just over 3 minutes left.

While much has been made of Georgetown’s lackluster finishes of late, the Hoyas proved that a cold streak to close the first half can damn their chances of winning just as well as a late collapse. Georgetown was losing at halftime 30-43, yet won the second half 39-31.

To close the last 5:45 of the first half, the Hoyas found themselves on the wrong end of a 16-3 run. GU simply could not keep pace with Syracuse’s hot shooting before halftime (10-27 vs. 16-33 1H FGs), as well as allowing too many offensive rebounds (1 vs. 7 1H), points off turnovers (11 vs. 14 1H), and second chance points (7 vs. 11 1H) in the opening period.

Still, 8 turnovers in the second half, including several unforced giveaways down the stretch, did not improve the likelihood of success for their comeback efforts. The opponent’s zone certainly created a few new turnover opportunities through the evening, but other errors felt all too familiar.

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Blair records double-double in Georgetown’s loss to rival Syracuse | WASHINGTONTIMES

Jamorko Pickett scored 17 points and had nine rebounds for Georgetown. Jahvon Blair had 16 points and a career-high 10 assists. Donald Carey added 10 points. Georgetown cut a 16-point deficit early in the second half to 68-65 on Jamari Sibley’s layup. But Alan Griffin answered with an alley-oop dunk and Girard hit a jumper near the top of the arc for a 72-65 lead with 1:15 remaining. The Hoyas committed four of their 12 turnovers in the last four minutes.

Georgetown’s losing streak reaches five with a 74-69 loss at rival Syracuse | WASHINGTONPOST

Ewing’s rotation looked a bit different in the opening 20 minutes: Collin Holloway and Malcolm Wilson, who had played just three games apiece entering Saturday, got some minutes. Ewing recently praised freshmen Kobe Clark, who started against Marquette a week earlier, and Jamari Sibley, but neither played in the first half. Neither did sharpshooter T.J. Berger, who quickly hit a three upon entering in the second half. AD The Hoyas chipped their way back into the game in the second half as their defensive effort improved, featuring a full-court press that seemed to throw the Orange’s offense out of sync. Blair and Pickett started seeing the ball go through the net more often, and a pretty driving layup from Blair cut the Syracuse lead to 65-61. A Sibley fast-break layup off a Dante Harris pass cut the Hoyas’ deficit to 68-65, but then Georgetown fell back into some bad habits.

SU avoids 2nd straight double-digit collapse with 74-69 win over Georgetown | DAILYORANGE

SU avoids 2nd straight double-digit collapse with 74-69 win over Georgetown | DAILYORANGE Syracuse went into the half up 13, a very similar position to Wednesday. For most of the half, it appeared that they’d kept the Hoyas at arm’s reach. But just like the Panthers on Wednesday, the Hoyas kept pushing and eventually started making the open looks Syracuse conceded. Turnovers maligned the Hoyas’ offense to start the second half, but the Orange’s own offensive issues prevented SU from building a more substantial lead...

Boeheim tried defensive adjustments to counteract the Hoyas’ hot shooting streak. When they hit a 3 from the wing, he instructed Braswell and Quincy Guerrier to play higher up on the wings to take away that shot. But the next possession down the floor, the Hoyas worked to create an open 3 look from the corner that Braswell just forfeited.

SU avoids 2nd straight double-digit collapse with 74-69 win over Georgetown | DAILYORANGE

Syracuse’s issues containing the Hoyas began in the opening stages, as Georgetown scored multiple easy buckets. Forwards Qudus Wahab and Pickett operated in the high-low spots in the paint, dragging Dolezaj up and then finding Wahab underneath. Griffin failed to provide the support to rotate down, resulting in easy dunks. The Orange then lost sight of Donald Carey, who hit a wide open rhythm 3 to put the Hoyas up five early. The same defensive issues that hurt Syracuse when the Hoyas’ offense steamrolled them in Washington, D.C. last December resumed, even with an almost entirely new lineup for GU. Boeheim shouted at both Dolezaj and Griffin multiple times in the game’s opening minutes, as both were caught out of position to start the game. The Orange adjusted by pinching their guards in more to take away the high post.

SU defensive adjustments eliminate Georgetown’s high-low offense in win | DAILYORANGE

Pickett positioned himself near the top of the key, shimmering back down as Blair dribbled the ball around the perimeter. But instead of hitting Pickett, Georgetown’s senior guard flung a left-handed pass to Wahab, who had crept behind Dolezaj and Griffin, and its possession ended with a two-handed dunk. Then, the Orange tightened their defense at the top of the zone. Buddy and Girard started cheating down toward Pickett in the high post, eventually relocating him out of that spot altogether on certain sequences.

“We decided we have to stay in on the post,” Buddy said, and accept any turnaround jumpers that Pickett or others might hit from that spot. The important pass to eliminate was the one to the low blocks. After taking just three 3-pointers in the opening seven minutes, Georgetown took 29 the rest of the game. Instead of making the extra pass inside, guards like Blair started settling from long range. Sometimes, those went in, like when Blair fell backward, with the shot clock expiring and Girard’s hand in his face. But other times, they bounced harmlessly off the rim and turned into transition opportunities at the other end.

Syracuse holds off rival Georgetown for 74-69 win in Dome | 247SPORTS

The Orange used a 12-0 run to take a 43-30 lead into halftime. After pushing its advantage all the way to 50-34, Georgetown chipped away during the middle of the second half. A Jahvon Blair three-pointed pulled the Hoyas within 53-46 at the under-12 timeout. A Robert Braswell chase-down block marked a highlight play for the Orange with about five minutes left, but Jamari Sibley’s layup made it 68-65 at the 3:10 mark. That, however, was as close as GU would get down the stretch.

Ewing: How Syracuse won the rebounding battle vs. Georgetown | 247SPORTS

Syracuse’s success clearing the glass gave an offense that had been struggling ample opportunities to find its rhythm. Girard and Buddy Boeheim combined to put up 39 points while shooting 6 for 10 from behind the arc. They both hit late three-pointers to fend off Georgetown’s comeback run. The Hoyas got as close as three points after trailing by as many as 16. “That is a positive, but we lost,” Ewing said about his team’s comeback in the second half. “That’s five in a row. I’m disappointed in the fact that we lost. I thought my team, especially in the second half, fought hard. We still have to be able to get the ball in the paint.”

Syracuse bounces back from poor rebounding effort in win over Georgetown | SYRACUSE

Jim Boeheim was pleased with the rebounding differential ... “(Georgetown) was a little bigger, but they’ve got a lot of guards out there. They’re playing three guards out there almost all the time, and sometimes they went to a small lineup of four guards and (Jamorko) Pickett. So that helps us on the boards.”

Georgetown boasted a starting lineup that featured 6-foot-11 center Qudus Wahab and 6-foot-9 forward Jamorko Pickett in the frontcourt, while 7-foot center Malcolm Wilson played off the bench. Pickett led the Hoyas with nine rebounds, but none of his teammates finished the game with more than four. Georgetown opted to go smaller and paid for it on the boards.

Syracuse 74, Georgetown 69: Orange outlast Hoyas | NUNESMAGICIAN

Quietly, Buddy Boeheim did a lot to keep Syracuse just ahead of the Hoyas. He was much more active inside the arc with improved confidence away from the three-point line. The junior led all scorers with 21 points, shooting 6-for-12 on two-point shots. The clutch factor kicked in for Syracuse down the stretch with Boeheim and Joe Girard hitting big threes towards the end of the game.

While the Orange struggled from the floor in the second half, Syracuse did hit four of its nine threes to just stay in front of Georgetown. Eight Hoyas turnovers in the second half also contributed to Georgetown’s demise. Once again, it was a tale of two halves as the Orange took smart shots to take a lead and took questionable shots to almost give up said lead. Syracuse perhaps got lucky today against Georgetown, but the Orange cannot afford to let bad shot selection persist in the second half.

College men’s basketball: Buddy Boeheim adds name to Georgetown rivalry in Syracuse victory | NNY360

Buddy Boeheim finished 9-for-18 and his second-half scoring surge featured several timely buckets to help SU maintain its edge down the stretch. He drained a 3-pointer with five minutes left to extend SU’s advantage to 68-61 after Robert Braswell blocked a shot in transition on the other end to set it up. Boeheim also scored to end a 7-0 Georgetown run earlier in the half and threw an alley-oop to Alan Griffin with 2:28 left to give SU a 70-65 edge. Girard III helped seal the victory with a pull-up jumper as the shot clock was set to expire to push the SU lead to 72-65 with 1:13 left.

Syracuse forward Marek Dolezaj chips tooth against Georgetown | NUNESMAGICIAN

When Boeheim was asked in the post-game Zoom conference if he’s ever seen a player chip a tooth in the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry, he shook his head left to right. In a physical, heated series which took off in the 1980s along with the Big East, Boehiem couldn’t recall a player chipping a tooth in the 40-year rivalry. Punches as well as chairs and oranges have been thrown throughout the years. Words have been used as barbs, but no player has ever chipped a tooth. “It was just an accidental play. In the old days it might’ve been on purpose, but this was accidental,” Boeheim said.

Comeback Attempt Falls Short As Hoyas Lose to Syracuse - Thompson’s Towel | THOMPSONSTOWEL

Still, Georgetown would not go quietly into the night. The Hoyas responded with four unanswered points of their own, trimming Cuse’s lead to three with 3:10. In the final minutes, it was Georgetown’s own miscues that would prove to be the difference in the game. The Hoyas turned it over on two consecutive possessions, allowing the Orange to steady themselves and put the game on ice. With the shot clock running down, Syracuse’s Joe Girard III drained a contested jumper to put his team up seven with 1:15 to play.

There would be no miraculous comeback on this chilly night in Upstate New York. In addition to the late-game turnovers, Coach Ewing identified losing the rebounding battle as a deciding factor in the loss. The Orange outrebounded the Hoyas 38-32 and pulled down 12 offensive boards. Syracuse is not a team that is known for its size or physicality. Georgetown, on the other hand, prides themselves on controlling the paint. Moving forward, it will be difficult for the Hoyas to win games if they are not able to win the battle on the boards.

Jim Boeheim pays homage to John Thompson in Syracuse-Georgetown game | NUNESMAGICIAN

“John Thompson meant a lot to all of us and all of college basketball. All the coaches. Both African American coaches and white coaches. He meant a lot, it wasn’t just one group. He meant a lot to everybody. He helped everybody,” Boeheim said post-game.

“We had an unbelievable rivalry. But we can come together. I know that’s hard in this country and we need to be able to see that,” Boeheim finished.