Whether Syracuse basketball has any glimmer of hope to re-enter the conversation for a Big Dance — or NIT — berth remains to be seen, but the ‘Cuse could be a dangerous squad moving forward as it replicates what it did to Clemson on Tuesday night in downtown New York.
Of course, Orange’s 91-78 dismantling of the Tigers is just one clash of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and let’s see how Syracuse’s basketball fares as it travels to Duke this Saturday afternoon.
But amid a 2021-22 campaign that saw the Orange (9-9, 3-4) often struggling, leaving fans quite frustrated, how the ‘Cuse broke Clemson (10-8, 2-5) in the second half is nothing but an encouraging sign.
For me there are many positive points in the 13-point victory of the Orange against the Tigers. A dominant second half. Predominant on the glass. Good shooting from the field, from outside the arc and on the charity line. Solid sofa production. The list goes on.
However, the basketball guard and downtown Syracuse topped the list.
Against Clemson, the three main guards of Orange were simply fantastic. Senior Buddy Boeheim and junior Joe Girard III together for 48 points. Overall, according to ESPN stats, they were 15-of-28 from the field, 8-of-14 from long range and 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
In addition, they combined for eight assists versus four turnovers, as well as all six of the team’s steals. Given the grief they both feel from ‘Cuse fans for their defensive efforts, picking up half a dozen thefts was very pleasing to watch.
By extension, junior Symir Torrence made his presence known from the bench. He played 14 minutes and collected four points, two assists, one rebound and zero turnovers.
If Torrence can consistently do things like this as the main reserve guard, it will prove huge for Syracuse basketball for the remainder of 2021-22.
But for my money, the MVP of this win is junior center Jesse Edwards. Yes, he went out towards the end. Those stupid mistakes need to be cleaned up.
Still, Edwards registered 34 minutes, good for 15 points, 11 plates and four blocks. He was 4-for-6 from the field and a great 7-for-10 from the free throw line.
Syracuse basketball was able to beat the Tigers for the most part due to a wide disparity at the free-throw line, with Boeheim, Girard and Edwards leading that division.
To date, in 2021-2022, Edwards averaged 12.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 28.7 minutes per affair, while hitting an impressive 69.7 percent of the field.
In my humble opinion, his offensive numbers are the best on the mound for a center that dates back to 2014-15, when Rakeem Christmas was electric and named an All-American.
To advance the ‘Cuse, Edwards and the team of guards will have to repeat their feats in Orange’s convincing capture of Clemson.