Syracuse Basketball: Top takeaways as 'Cuse scores massive road win versus N.C. State

Syracuse basketball, in one of its biggest wins of the 2023-24 season, defeated N.C. State on the road by four points.
Syracuse basketball, in one of its biggest wins of the 2023-24 season, defeated N.C. State on the road by four points. / Lance King/GettyImages

I simply can't figure this Syracuse basketball team out.

A week ago, the Orange played its best game of the 2023-24 season, defeating then-No. 7 North Carolina at the JMA Wireless Dome in a massive outcome for the 'Cuse.

Then, over the weekend, Syracuse basketball got hammered on the boards and only scored 60 points in a five-point loss at Georgia Tech, a damaging result for the Orange's potential post-season resume.

Fast-forward to Tuesday evening in Raleigh, N.C., and Syracuse basketball rode the stellar first-half shooting of sophomore forward Chris Bell to lead by as many as 15 points at N.C. State. But Bell was silent in the second half, and the Wolfpack clawed back to even briefly take the lead.

However, down the stretch, sophomore wing Quadir Copeland was fabulous on both ends of the floor, and the Orange (17-10, 8-8 in the ACC) defeated N.C. State, 87-83. Based on the Wolfpack's NCAA NET ranking of No. 75 on Tuesday, this is a quadrant-one success for the 'Cuse, its third of 2023-24 to go along with that home win over UNC and a road triumph at Pittsburgh in mid-January.

My key observations as Syracuse basketball squeaked out a victory at N.C. State.

•Bell was lights out in the first half, making eight shots from long range, leaving him just one short of tying the program record for 3-pointers made in a game. N.C. State defenders gave him little room to maneuver after the intermission, and he couldn't get going in the second half. Still, Bell finished with a team-high 26 points.

•Copeland was sensational. He scored a career-high 25 points in just 26 minutes, finishing with 10-of-12 shooting from the field. Copeland also had seven rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal.

•Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz was in foul trouble during the first half and didn't score. In the second half, he collected 15 points and was 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard J.J. Starling added 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore big man Maliq Brown chipped in six points, four boards, four assists and two steals.

•The Orange notched its third road win of 2023-24, with the other two being at Pittsburgh and at Georgetown in December.

•Syracuse basketball has beaten the Wolfpack (16-10, 8-7 in the ACC) seven straight times and leads their all-time series, 14-6.

•I'm stating the obvious, but when the 'Cuse shoots well, good things transpire. Against N.C. State, the Orange connected on 51 percent from the field, 60 percent from beyond the arc and 95 percent from the free-throw line (18-of-19). The Wolfpack hit on 46 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point land and 83 percent from the charity stripe.

•The 'Cuse didn't prevail on the boards, but it didn't get dominated there, either. N.C. State held a 32-30 edge in rebounds, along with 11-10 in turnovers forced, 28-25 in bench points, 5-3 in blocks, 17-9 in fast-break points, 19-15 in points off turnovers, and 16-8 in second-chance points.

•On the flip side, Syracuse basketball led 13-8 in assists and 6-4 in steals. The teams were tied 34-34 in paint points.

•Congrats from Orange Nation to Mintz, who on Tuesday night became the 66th member of the program's 1,000-point club. He reached that milestone in 59 contests, tied for 7th-fastest in 'Cuse history, the squad said in a post on X.

•To me, Syracuse basketball is still far removed from the proverbial bubble for this spring's NCAA Tournament. However, if the Orange could run the table over its final quartet of regular-season affairs and get to 21 victories prior to the ACC Tournament commencing next month in Washington, D.C., I believe the 'Cuse could realistically enter the conversation for a Big Dance invite.

•Next up, Syracuse basketball will host Notre Dame this Saturday, Feb. 24, beginning at noon, with television coverage on ESPN. SU Athletics will celebrate the Hall of Fame career of legendary former Orange head coach Jim Boeheim in what should prove a beautiful event (and hopefully, a win for the 'Cuse).

Syracuse Basketball: 5-star Overtime Elite wing who likes ‘Cuse inks Adidas NIL deal. Syracuse Basketball: 5-star Overtime Elite wing who likes ‘Cuse inks Adidas NIL deal. dark. Next