The Orange hustled its way to a comeback against the Clemson Tigers on Tuesday 91-78. It was the final game of a three-game home stand for Syracuse. With the win, SU improved to 9-9 (3-4) on the season.
Syracuse jumped on Clemson early, extending to a 10 point lead. Clemson battled back, however, tying the score at 27 with roughly 6:27 on the clock. The game went back and forth for a while, until Syracuse used an 8-2 run and 8-0 run to pull away in the second half.
“I’m proud of this team the way they fought,” Coach Jim Boeheim said in a post-game press conference. Five, six games ago everybody said we’d get out-rebounded every game, the whole year and instead, we've out-rebounded everybody we've played since then."
Syracuse shot the ball extremely well all night, making nearly 54% of its shots. The Orange played with great pace, which prevented the Tigers from rallying in the second half.
Defensively, while Clemson got some good looks inside, Syracuse's perimeter defense showed improvement by holding the Tigers to just 29.6% from beyond the arc.
Clemson’s PJ Hall had 19 points and 11 rebounds against the Orange, his second career double-double. He gave Syracuse the most trouble Tuesday night with his ability to hit the mid-range jumper and attack the basket.
“Clemson moves the ball, they are a good team,” Coach Boeheim said. “We did a much better job defending than we have. We’re still making little mistakes you can’t make and be a really good team…just getting the ball taken away from us and making a bad pass across the front.”
While Syracuse shot the ball well, there were still too many unforced turnovers. In the past, Joe Girard has been the biggest culprit of those unforced turnovers. That was not the case against Clemson.
“Joe got it going,” Coach Boeheim said. “Joe’s an offensive point-guard, he’s got to do what he did tonight. He’s got to be a scorer.”
Despite fouling out of the game with only one minute left in the game, Jesse Edwards scored 15 points, 11 rebounds and was very active with 4 blocks against the Tigers.
Buddy Boeheim led the team with 25 points and Joe Girard III had 23 points.
“They [the Tigers] went small and we were able to take advantage of it inside with Jimmy, with Jesse in there and Buddy was able to get to the foul line better than he has been,” Coach Boeheim said.
When asked about the matchup between PJ Hall and Jesse Edwards in the first half of the game, Coach Boeheim said, “I thought in the first half, he [Edwards] let him [Hall] catch it and turn around too easily and he had some easy buckets in the middle,” Coach Boeheim said. “He’s [Hall] a good player, we’re stretched out a little bit, so he’s going to get some opportunities down there, but then in the second half, Jesse was much better defensively, he got up on him, blocked a couple of shots, got to the corner and blocked a couple of shots there during that run when we got stops; Jesse was a pivotal part of that.”
Coach Boeheim seems encouraged by his team's play.
“We've played good,” Coach Boeheim said. “We just haven’t had any results to show for it…hopefully, this will get us going in a better direction. It was a good win against a good team.”
The Orange play Duke University’s Blue Devils on Saturday.