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Fast reactions: 3 Takeaways from Syracuse’s 68-61 loss at Virginia

first_imgSyracuse’s longest losing skid of the season reached three games after the Orange fell to Virginia, 68-61, in John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday night. SU trailed by just three points at halftime, but despite some late steals thanks to a full-court press, couldn’t match UVA’s barrage of 3-pointers in the second half.Here are three takeaways from SU’s third-straight loss:Deep defenseDefensive lapses plagued the Orange late in its defeat to Wake Forest last week. Late in the shot clock, Matthew Moyer said, SU would sit back for a fraction of a second and give the Demon Deacons the space necessary to sink a shot from deep. That same tendency seemed to hurt SU again Tuesday night, especially in the second half.The Cavaliers sunk just three 3-pointers in the first half, all from Kyle Guy, who finished with 22 points to lead all scorers. But then UVA let loose after the break, connecting on 6 of 15 attempts beyond the arch. They didn’t make a two-point attempt until the 6:18 mark in the half. And with their defense limiting SU to its fourth-lowest point total of the year, it didn’t have to.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRough RoadIt’s well-documented how much a road win would mean for SU in the ACC. A year ago, the Orange found itself on the outside of the bubble after finishing the season with two wins away from the Carrier Dome. Its inability to boost its reputation on the road was likely the team’s fatal flaw.So letting a game within reach slip away in the second half stings. When it comes against the No. 3 team in the country that many consider to be the ACC’s best, it burns a little deeper than usual. Frank Howard was clear after last weekend’s loss to Notre Dame in saying that SU needed to change things to turn its season around. Beating UVA would have been the most deliberate way to do just that.Syracuse trailed by just two possessions with less than four minutes left. It pressed in the game’s final few minutes and forced the Cavaliers into some turnovers. It didn’t look like one of the ACC’s bottom-tier teams against one of the nation’s best teams. It had a chance.But that means very little without a win.Tale of two HowardsA perfect world for SU would involve Tyus Battle, its best player, scoring 25 points a night and leading his team through the rigors of the ACC. But Battle has, at times, struggled to score consistently of late, being slowed by opposing teams keying their defensive schemes to stop him. Frank Howard has filled the void.Howard has scored fewer than 17 points just twice since a five-point effort against Connecticut on Dec. 5. On Wednesday, he led SU with 11 points at halftime, connecting on three of four three-point attempts before the break. Howard’s ability to create his own shot — he hoisted nine of SU’s 26 first-half field goals — was the primary factor in SU’s ability to stick around despite UVA’s smothering defense and trail by just three points at halftime.Then Howard disappeared. He did not make a field goal after halftime until the game’s final minute, when SU trailed by double-digits. He finished with 18 points and seven turnovers. He is the piece that can make SU go, and when he became a non-factor in the second half, SU headed straight for a loss. Comments Published on January 9, 2018 at 10:53 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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