Syracuse Basketball: Top takeaways as ‘Cuse gets past Boston College at home

Syracuse basketball squandered a 19-point, first-half lead but came away with a 69-59 victory over Boston College at home.
Syracuse basketball squandered a 19-point, first-half lead but came away with a 69-59 victory over Boston College at home. / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference clash for Syracuse basketball against long-time rival Boston College wasn’t necessarily a must-win for the Orange, but it was close to it.

The ‘Cuse, which has no bad losses on its post-season resume, is still on the hunt for some marquee victories as it looks to enter the conversation for an invite to this spring’s NCAA Tournament.

However, the Orange, as it pushes through league play during the 2023-24 season, has to keep winning games, particularly at home, versus decent, but not great, opponents.

That was the case on Wednesday evening on the Hill, as Syracuse basketball blew a 19-point lead in the first half against the Eagles, found itself down by a small sum in the second half, but ultimately came away with a 69-59 triumph over Boston College in a pivotal result for the ‘Cuse.

Here are my top observations and takeaways as Syracuse basketball beat Boston College.

•Prior to this contest commencing, the Orange announced on its X page that junior center Naheem McLeod would “not be in uniform tonight because of a right foot injury. He is out indefinitely.” We hope to see Naheem back soon.

•Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, one of the ACC’s leading scorers, didn’t start. He would end up logging 31 minutes and finish with 10 points.

•Sophomore forward Chris Bell, who has struggled a bit of late, went 4-of-9 from deep and led the ‘Cuse in scoring, with 20 points. He was huge in this win.

•Sophomore big man Maliq Brown, who entered the starting rotation with McLeod unavailable, keeps on playing at a high level. He tallied 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals.

•Sophomore guard/wing Quadir Copeland, who started for Mintz in the first half, compiled seven points, six boards, four assists and three steals.

•Sophomore wing Justin Taylor didn’t shoot well, but he did have seven points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal.

•The ‘Cuse defense did a terrific job in guarding Boston College graduate student big man Quinten Post, one of the top scorers in the conference. He played 26 minutes before fouling out, not scoring at all and only taking four shots.

•In the first half, neither team shot particularly well. The Orange feasted on the Eagles’ many turnovers, which enabled Syracuse basketball to score out in transition. That being said, after the ‘Cuse was up by as many as 19 points in the first half, Boston College went on an 8-0 run right before the break to cut the deficit to 10 points, 32-22.

•Early in the second half, Syracuse basketball (11-4, 2-2 in the ACC) increased its lead, but then the Orange went cold from the field, and the Eagles started making shots, while crushing the offensive glass. Boston College (10-5, 1-3 in the ACC) even took the lead for a moment, and ‘Cuse fans began to feel nervous, some declaring on social media that Syracuse basketball had blown this game. Not so fast, though. The Orange, down the stretch, turned up the intensity, and I credit ‘Cuse players for keeping their composure and coming away with a win.

•In 2023-24, Syracuse basketball is 8-0 at the JMA Wireless Dome. The Orange improves to 58-26 in its all-time series with Boston College. The ‘Cuse has defeated the Eagles on 11 straight occasions.

•Before this battle, Boston College and Syracuse basketball had similar NCAA NET rankings, so it was vital that the Orange held serve on its home court.

•The ‘Cuse connected on 37.7 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from 3-point land and 73.9 percent from the free-throw line. The Eagles made 38.7 percent from the field, 27.6 percent from beyond the arc and 75.0 percent from the charity stripe. A key metric here is that Syracuse basketball was plus-14 in free-throw shots made.

•In statistical categories, each squad had seven blocks. Boston College led 42-36 in total rebounds, 18-14 in bench points, 32-30 in paint points, and 16-8 in second-chance points.

•The Orange, meanwhile, led 14-11 in assists, 22-8 in turnovers forced, 12-8 in fastbreak points, 17-4 in steals, and 28-11 in points off turnovers. Additionally, Syracuse basketball committed just seven fouls, as compared to 18 fouls committed for the Eagles.

•Next up, the ‘Cuse will travel to No. 7 North Carolina (12-3, 4-0 in the ACC) on Saturday, Jan. 13. The tip-off from Chapel Hill, N.C., is scheduled for noon, with television coverage on ESPN. This ACC encounter presents an enormous opportunity for Syracuse basketball to potentially notch a coveted quadrant-one success.

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