Syracuse Basketball: Orange has almost-complete effort vs. North Florida

Syracuse basketball gave up a ton of 3-pointers to North Florida on Saturday night in Central New York, but the Orange still managed to garner a win.

Syracuse basketball heads into the holiday break on a two-affair success streak, thanks to an 82-70 triumph against hot-shooting North Florida before a livelier crowd on Saturday evening inside the Carrier Dome.

The Orange (7-5) found itself in a see-saw battle for much of this contest with the Ospreys (7-7), but the ‘Cuse pulled away late on the strength of an efficient offense and a minuscule amount of turnovers.

I get that North Florida isn’t the type of heavyweight opponent that Syracuse will soon duel versus as Atlantic Coast Conference competition resumes. However, the Ospreys are one of the best 3-point shooting groups in all of collegiate hoops, and that is a potential blueprint to effectively crush the Orange’s 2-3 zone.

The ‘Cuse defense remains a work in progress, as North Florida players often had relatively open looks from deep, and the Ospreys connected on a whopping 17-of-46 from beyond the arc. Such an abundance of made baskets from long range could have easily sunk Syracuse, but the Orange kept fighting and ultimately prevailed.

Statistically speaking, you can’t ask for much more than the ‘Cuse delivered, sans its defense against North Florida’s 3-point barrage. Syracuse stayed close on the glass, and the Orange hit on 45.8 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from 3-point land, and 75.0 percent from the charity stripe. Pretty solid.

Furthermore, the ‘Cuse dished out an astounding 22 assists on 27 buckets, collected eight steals, forced a dozen miscues, and only committed four mistakes of its own.

As head coach Jim Boeheim opined in his post-game press conference, “I don’t think you can do much better than that.” I agree, JB!

Boeheim added, “Everything is a fight for us. We have to fight for everything we get. We’re young and we’re learning.”

Sure, the 2019-20 campaign has proven quite disappointing at times for Syracuse, and Orange fanatics aren’t shy about voicing their frustration. Yet the current ‘Cuse roster continues to show signs of improvement, even if a pedestrian record to date doesn’t illuminate that.

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Syracuse wraps up its non-conference slate on Saturday, Dec. 28, when it hosts in-state foe Niagara. A conquest in that encounter will give the Orange a boost of momentum as the new year arrives.

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