The Orange went down to Tallahassee on Saturday to take on the Florida State Seminoles in a game that had major tournament implications. As a projected #9 seed, per Joe Lunardi, Syracuse was playing to essentially lock themselves into the NCAA Tournament and Florida State, currently not projected to make the tournament, was trying to play their way in.
In a game that meant so much for both teams, Florida State came out on top 78-73.
The first five minutes of the game were, for lack of a better word, terrible. After five minutes of play, the teams combined for 8 turnovers (4 each) and 1 point. Yes, in five minutes both teams combined for only 1 point, which came off a DaJuan Coleman free throw. Syracuse and FSU combined to shoot 0-13 (SU: 0-5, FSU: 0-8) in those five minutes. FSU’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes made the game’s first basket with a three pointer 5:12 into the game.
Once that first basket was made, the pace quickly started to pick up. For the rest of the half, both teams were on fire from the field, with Syracuse going 14-20 and Florida State shooting 12-19. After a rough start to the first half, Syracuse went into halftime up 35-31.
Florida State began the second half with an 11-2 run, on 3 straight three pointers from freshman Malik Beasley. The Orange could not stop Beasley, who scored 18 of his team leading 20 points in the second half. Syracuse freshman Tyler Lydon also had a productive second half, where he scored much of his 16 points.
Syracuse and FSU traded leads throughout the second half. With just under a minute left in the game, Florida State held a three point lead. Syracuse senior guard Trevor Cooney narrowly missed a three point shot that would have tied the game with 40 seconds remaining. Florida State grabbed the rebound, ran down the court and made a layup, putting them up 5 with under thirty seconds left. Malachi Richardson put up a desperation three in the last few seconds but missed and Syracuse lost 78-73.
Saturday afternoon was yet another game that Syracuse was greatly out-rebounded. Florida State grabbed 43 boards opposed to Syracuse’s 26. The forwards for the Orange were often out of position and allowed FSU to collect a staggering 13 offensive rebounds. Guards Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes were huge factors in transition for FSU, scoring 13 points on the fast break. Simply put, the Seminoles were the quicker and more determined team.
With a win, the Seminoles put themselves in a much better position to make the NCAA Tournament. However, a tournament birth is not guaranteed. They must win a few games in the ACC Tournament in order to make it to the Big Dance. Even with a loss, the Orange are still in relatively good shape to make the tournament. Barring a first round exit in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse should be going dancing.
The Orange play next in the ACC Tournament, which begins Tuesday, March 8th
Chris Broderick ‘18
Stats from cuse.com