Syracuse looks for defense with Hurricanes up next

NCAA Men's Basketball

The Syracuse Orange, who play host to the Miami Hurricanes in an ACC game on Tuesday night, aren’t in a good mood.

They can’t be — not after allowing a season-high in points on Saturday in a 96-76 loss at Pittsburgh. Syracuse (7-4, 1-3 ACC) allowed 64 second-half points.

“Defensively, that was probably the worst we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Jim Boeheim, who was named Syracuse’s head coach in 1976. “Sixty-four points? Yea, that’s a lot of points.

“We don’t have any answers. We’re playing the best group we can play. … In the second half, we played no defense.”

Meanwhile, injury-plagued Miami (6-6, 2-5) is in great spirits after knocking off Louisville — ranked 16th at the time — 78-72 on Saturday night.

Despite having just seven scholarship players available, Miami got a great effort from guard Isaiah Wong, who scored a career-high 30 points, including 21 in the second half.

Wong also had seven rebounds, a career-high six assists and zero turnovers in 39 spectacular minutes.

He became just the second ACC player in the past decade to record at least 30 points, five rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers, joining North Carolina’s Marcus Paige.

In Miami’s previous game, an embarrassing 84-62 loss to a Boston College team that had started the day winless in the ACC, Wong was held to six points in 36 minutes, with three turnovers.

“Isaiah was probably disappointed he didn’t play better (against BC),” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said of Wong, who is fifth in the ACC in scoring (17.6 ppg). “Good players like Isaiah bounce back, and that’s what he did. He was focused and aggressive.”

Miami, which had five players miss the Louisville game due to injuries, could get two of them back on Tuesday as Earl Timberlake (left arm) and Kameron McGusty (right hamstring) are day-to-day.

Besides Wong, Miami got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Stony Brook transfer Elijah Olaniyi, his first double-double since joining the team this season.

Canes freshman Matt Cross, who was held scoreless against his hometown team Boston College, provided 16 points in 29 minutes against Louisville, including going 4-for-6 on 3-pointers.

However, as Larranaga put it, Miami is a “driving team, and when we play against man, we can be effective. When we play against zone, we need to shoot 3-pointers better.”

Syracuse, of course, plays a 2-3 zone, and this could be the team the Orange need to play to turn things around. After all, Miami is last in the ACC in 3-point shooting (28.1 percent).

The Orange, who have lost three of their past four games, are 19-9 against Miami, including 9-3 at home. Since Larranaga arrived in Miami, the Canes have improved in the series (4-5).

Syracuse’s offense is led by Alan Griffin, who is seventh in the league in scoring (16.7) and third in 3-point percentage (36.8). Quincy Guerrier is ninth in scoring (16.5), second in rebounding (9.8) and third in field-goal percentage (55.9).

As a team, Syracuse is second in the league in scoring, but they are just 11th in points allowed.

–Field Level Media

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