Top takeaways as Syracuse basketball gets crushed in ACC tourney, won't go dancing

Syracuse basketball fell apart in the second half of an ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State, dashing SU's Big Dance hopes.
Syracuse basketball fell apart in the second half of an ACC Tournament loss to N.C. State, dashing SU's Big Dance hopes. / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

The decade-long struggle of Syracuse basketball in the ACC Tournament continued on Wednesday night, as the Orange's hopes to go dancing in March were dashed by N.C. State.

In the 2023-24 regular season, when the 'Cuse won 20 games for the first time in 10 years, Syracuse basketball swept a two-contest set with the Wolfpack.

However, on Wednesday evening, the Orange failed to make it three in a row this term. Syracuse basketball, needing to go on a deep run in the 2024 ACC Tournament from Washington, D.C., to have any shot of hearing its name called on Selection Sunday for this spring's Big Dance, fell apart in the second half against N.C. State inside the Capital One Arena.

Candidly, the Orange's 83-65 setback at the hands of the Wolfpack in the ACC Tournament's second round was the latest example of an ongoing, and disappointing, theme for Syracuse basketball in 2023-24.

As one fellow fan put it on social media, when the 'Cuse (20-12, 11-9 in the ACC) has lost this season, it loses big. And that's true. By and large, most of SU's defeats in 2023-24 have come by large margins, and that's the most frustrating thing to me about this season's squad.

It's one thing to lose. But to get crushed in a convincing manner, that's another thing altogether. The Orange, the No. 7 seed in the ACC Tournament, and the No. 10 seed N.C. State (19-14, 9-11 in the ACC) were locked in a tight affair early in the second half.

At the 18:46 mark, Syracuse basketball led 39-37. At the 12:09 mark, roughly 6.5 minutes of game time later, the 'Cuse trailed, 60-43. That 23-4 run for the Wolfpack sealed the Orange's fate.

My key observations as Syracuse basketball was bounced from the ACC Tournament.

•Sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, this week named to the All-ACC second team, paced the Orange with a game-high 21 points, along with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

•Sophomore big man Maliq Brown, who is on the All-ACC defensive squad, did his usual thing, notching 11 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals.

•Sophomore forward Chris Bell picked up two early fouls in the first half, and that limited his minutes in the first 20 minutes. He would finish with 11 points and made a trio of 3-pointers.

•Sophomore guard J.J. Starling wasn't quite as good as he has been in recent games, chipping in nine points. Sophomore wing Quadir Copeland added 11 points, five boards, four assists and one steal.

•As a team, Syracuse basketball shot 47 percent from the field, 32 percent from beyond the arc and 83 percent from the free-throw line. N.C. State made 42 percent from the field, 35 percent from deep and 83 percent from the charity stripe. However, the Wolfpack scored 15 more points than the 'Cuse at the free-throw line. That's a massive disparity.

•By and large in 2023-24, the Orange has thrived in turning its foes over and then converting those miscues into points out in transition. That was not the case against N.C. State.

•The 'Cuse committed 19 turnovers, as compared to 10 for N.C. State. The Wolfpack owned a commanding 30-9 edge in points off turnovers. Ball game, folks.

•In other statistical categories, N.C. State led 40-31 in rebounds, 20-7 in second-chance points, 20-11 in bench points, 28-26 in paint points, 19-8 in fast-break points, 11-6 in steals, and 16-15 in assists. The Orange led 3-2 in blocked shots.

•Needless to say, 'Cuse fans were hoping that our beloved team would go on a magical run in our nation's capital, and the loss to the Wolfpack was utterly disappointing. Again, not just because the Orange lost, but how Syracuse basketball lost and by such a wide margin.

•It's always challenging to beat the same opponent three times in one season, and the 'Cuse found that out the hard way on Wednesday night. With its triumph, N.C. State snapped a seven-contest setback streak to Syracuse basketball, which still leads the all-time series, 14-7.

•Since moving from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference during the 2013-14 stanza, the Orange is now 5-9 overall in the ACC Tournament. SU has never won more than one encounter in the ACC Tournament in any given term, and Syracuse basketball has never reached the semifinals of this event. Yuck.

•Let's see if the Orange will get a bid for the upcoming NIT. Selections for the 2024 NIT will be released on Sunday, March 17, at 9:30 pm on ESPN2.

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