We can talk X's and O's, we can talk analytics, we can talk about what Syracuse was doing, but really only one thing mattered in this game. Florida State was 4/30 from 3. It's as simple as that. This team has too much shooting talent to shoot 4 of 30. Simply inexcusable, especially at home. They had open looks all game and just didn't hit their shots.
People will blame the staff, the staff didn't shoot 4/30 from 3 or 9/32 from the floor in the second half. Sometimes, guys just have to hit their shots. FSU led at one point by 11 with 18 minutes left in the second half, then proceeded to score just 9 points over the next 14 minutes. The fact it ended in a one-possession game is almost a miracle. Syracuse led by 11 with 5:16 left, then FSU finally started realizing "Hey, we might lose here" and start getting some makes.
This is a bad loss, and Florida State is going to have to get better fast with ACC play a month away, as well as dates against South Carolina and UCF coming up.
Some box score notes.
Box Score Notes
Let me just put the box scores side-by-side.
These teams were very even everywhere except for one very key statistic: 3-point percentage. Both teams took and made the same amount of shots, free throws were pretty even, turnovers and offensive rebounds were close, Syracuse just made 5 more 3s. That's your difference.
Joseph Girard was the biggest thorn in FSU's side for 'Cuse. Every time they needed a big shot, he delivered in a big way, especially from 3 where he was 4/8. He finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers.
Cole Swider had his best game at Syracuse with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He may have only been 4/13 from 3, but he always seemed to hit the backbreakers, and also hit the two free throws at the end that put them up 3.
The Boeheim's weren't exactly great, combining for 19 points on 8/23 shooting. Buddy was able to get to his right hand every so often and make FSU pay, but otherwise, they were held in check. Especially Buddy, who finished with 6 points on 3/10 shooting, but he did lead the way with 5 assists.
Jesse Edwards had a big game for Syracuse as well, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks. His fouling out was a big reason FSU started to make a little run at the end.
For Florida State... Caleb Mills was about the only bright spot with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists on 7/13 shooting. He was cooking in the high post/middle of the 2-3 zone for a while, then 'Cuse broke out a 1-3-1 and it took him out of his spots.
RayQuan Evans was solid with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks (he should've had 4 but was called for a really weak foul in transition). It was good to see him back on the court after the loss of his brother, he's been the best defender on the team this season.
Naheem McLeod showed the most potential he has all season, including a key block that led to transition points. Hopefully, we see more of that, FSU needs some size down low (something I never thought I'd say).
Anthony Polite and Wyatt Wilkes were horrendous, combining to go 0/9 from 3. These two were both above 38% last year from 3, and are now both below 26%. How can you prepare for that? At least Polite is still being active defensively, whereas Wilkes is playing himself off of the floor.
Onto the Plays
Scenario: Pain. Only Pain.
I apparently like pain. So here is every 3-point attempt from Florida State against Syracuse.
Half of those shots are open, and some of them were also really ill-advised. Some of these shots are so wide open that most D1 players should be able to hit them in rhythm. FSU is just in their own head.
Scenario: Syracuse Collects Own Miss In Transition
Florida State does a great job of getting back in the game and getting a stop in transition, but you let Symir Torrence come down with his own miss, and he kicks out to the one player that had been consistent all night: Joe Girard. As soon as he caught the ball, I said out loud "not him." Cash.
This would be the only made field goal by Syracuse in the last four minutes, and it felt like a dagger.
Scenario: FSU Forces Turnover With Less Than 20 Seconds Left
Once again, FSU does a great job of getting a stop, this time forcing a turnover, but Polite just fumbles it away out of bounds. Would've loved for him to pull it back reset, and get a play set up. Instead, he tries going behind the back, it goes out of bounds, Cole Swider hits two free throws on the other end, then FSU misses two threes on their own end to end their 25-game ACC home winning streak.
Florida State gets more than a week off to prepare for South Carolina in the No Room for Racism Classic in Rock Hill, SC. I imagine there will be a lot of shooting practice and a lot of shooting drills.