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After a last-minute loss to Miami to finish the regular season under .500 for the first time in head coach Jim Boeheim’s tenure, Syracuse headed to Brooklyn for the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. With their NCAA Tournament hopes looking bleak, the Orange could use any wins to bolster their resume and secure the automatic ACC bid.
Syracuse (16-16, 9-11 ACC) trounced Florida State 96-57 (17-14, 10-10). With the blowout win, The Orange avoided losing five straight — the last time they did lose that many in a row was 1968-69. Similar to SU’s December win over FSU, where the Seminoles shot 4-for-30 from beyond the arc — Florida State went 2-for-25 on Wednesday afternoon.
But Cole Swider’s 20 first-half points led SU to a large halftime lead. Likewise, Symir Torrence provided a spark on both sides of the floor as Syracuse’s three-guard lineup proved to be the difference in a huge win for the Orange.
Here are three observations from SU’s win over Florida State:
Chapel Hill Cole Swider returns
Against UNC, Swider dropped a career-high 36 points in what was eventually an overtime loss for SU. Wednesday against Florida State, Swider came out scorching hot again with 20 points in the first half alone. The forward scored from all over the floor with 3-pointers, fadeaway jumpers and fast-break dunks.
Swider started his scoring off in his typical fashion by spotting up for a 3 on the wing off an assist from Joe Girard III. Three minutes later, after grabbing a defensive rebound, Swider took the ball himself and dribbled up the court before stopping on a dime and rising for another 3-pointer on the wings. Just 50 seconds later, Swider stood in the corner and was found by Girard again to drain his third 3 of the first half.
He finished 3-for-4 from 3 in the first half and finished one rebound shy of a first-half double-double. Swider got his double-double eventually in the second half, but with the Orange so far ahead, Boeheim began to rotate through his bench in anticipation of tomorrow’s game.
Defense leads to SU’s high-powered offense
Another big part of Swider’s first-half contributions came on defense. Early on, Swider blocked an inbound pass with his arms to get the steal and set Buddy Boeheim in transition for a 3. Then, when the Seminoles’ Caleb Mills tried to rise for a baseline jumper, Swider flashed in for the block. Again Swider hit Buddy in transition and quickly trailed him toward the basket. Buddy missed the initial layup, but Swider was there for the putback layup.
But Swider wasn’t the only one creating turnovers on defense. Torrence, in his return to the lineup after missing two games, also provided a spark on defense. When Harrison Prieto jumped up to make a pass, Torrence snuck his hand in and wriggled the ball loose. In transition, Torrence passed to Swider ahead of the play for a transition dunk to put SU up 37-20.
In 14 first-half minutes, Torrence scored five points, dished out a team-high four assists and snagged two steals.
Three guard lineup pays dividends
Syracuse began Wednesday’s game with the same starting five as its weekend game against Miami. But six minutes into the game, Boeheim elected to send Jimmy Boeheim to the bench in favor of Torrence. When he entered the game, Syracuse had a slender lead of just 11-8.
Torrence’s entrance into the game allowed Girard to move off the ball. The pair immediately connected as Torrence snagged a defensive rebound and hit Girard on the wing for a 3-pointer. The usual starting guard for SU then hit a couple of 3s and scored 13 points in the first half, with Torrence assisting on two more of Girard’s scoring opportunities.
At the end of the first half, Girard drove in for a layup and missed, but Torrence grabbed the rebound and threw up a hook shot that appeared to beat the buzzer. Upon review, the shot was chalked off, but since Torrence entered with the Syracuse lead at just 3, the Orange finished the first half up 49-26.
It was more of the same in the second half as Boeheim elected to start Torrence on the bench with Jimmy on the floor. But after an early turnover by Jimmy, Torrence was back in the game. By then the game was mostly out of reach for the Seminoles as SU’s lead increased to over 30 points. By the end of the game, Torrence had played a season-high 29 minutes to help SU get the much-needed win.
The post Observations from Syracuse vs. FSU: Swider, 3 guard lineup keys blowout win appeared first on The Daily Orange.