MBB falls to Syracuse

The 94-72 loss snapped a five-game win streak.


Courtesy of Syracuse Today

Wake Forest suffered a setback against Syracuse.

Christian Odjakjian, Staff Writer

The Wake Forest men’s basketball team’s four-game win streak came to an end on Saturday in Syracuse, as the Demon Deacons fell to the Orange, 94-72.

Wake Forest (17-5, 7-4 ACC) was surprisingly a one-point underdog in the game, as Syracuse (10-11, 4-6) has underwhelmed all season long.

“All the credit tonight goes to Syracuse”, Wake Forest Head Coach Steve Forbes said after the game. “They whipped our tail in every aspect of the game. Offense, defense, coaching. They were outstanding”.

“Just a really good offensive and defensive performance,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “We haven’t been able to do that together this year. I think Wake Forest is a really good team, so this is a good win.”

Boeheim’s son, Buddy, led the way for the Orange, scoring a season-high 30 points, and hitting six three-pointers. He added seven assists and five rebounds. Buddy was scorching hot, and put on a pretty impressive showing, using his 6’6” frame to take and make difficult shots again and again.

“It felt like I was getting to my spots,” Buddy said. “Our offense was getting a lot better as the game went on. We played off each other and had a lot of fun out there.”

Wake Forest had been defending at a high level during its win streak, but Saturday was a different story. 

“They just didn’t feel us out there defensively,” Forbes said. “But that’s a credit to them, they are a really good offensive team, especially one-on-one.”

Ninety-four points is the highest total that the Demon Deacons have allowed this year, second to the 92 that 1st place Miami poured on Wake in Coral Gables back on New Year’s Day.

The Demon Deacons led by as much as eight points in the first half, taking a 42-39 lead into halftime. 

After the break, things started to fall apart. 

“They got off to a great start in the second half,” Wake Forest senior guard Daivien Williamson said. “They knocked down a lot of shots, and we just didn’t defend them the way we were supposed to”.

After 10 minutes of second-half action, Syracuse had built a 19-point lead, leading 69-50. The margin was never less than 16 the rest of the game. Wake also gave the ball away 11 times in the latter period, compared to just two turnovers for the Orange. 

The 2-3 zone really disrupted Wake Forest’s offensive rhythm. Syracuse was easily telegraphing passes, and those steals and deflections led to run-outs and easy baskets. Syracuse outscored Wake Forest 55-30 in the second half, making 23 field goals, while the Demon Deacons only attempted 26.

Williamson was a bright spot in the loss, scoring 27 points on 10-16 shooting, including 5-8 from long range. The only other Wake Forest player to finish in double figures was sophomore guard Damari Monsanto, who hit four threes and scored 12 points. 

Neither of those players were available when Wake Forest beat Syracuse at home in overtime in early January.

Both Alondes Williams and Jake LaRavia played arguably their worst games of the season. Williams scored just eight points on 3-10 shooting, and he committed six turnovers. LaRavia only scored five points, shooting 2-7 from the field. Neither of them had played an ACC game yet this year without scoring in double figures.

Twenty-three thousand people were in attendance in the Carrier Dome, creating quite an atmosphere. There was also a special guest in attendance, 2021 NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat courtside with his brother and teammate Thanasis.

Antetokounmpo doesn’t have a tie to Syracuse, but he is a fan of the program and has stated that he would’ve liked to play there if he didn’t go straight to the NBA from Greece. Coach Boeheim spoke very highly of the MVP, who took the time to talk to his players in the locker room for a while after the win.

It was an all-around great night for Syracuse, and for Wake Forest, a blowout that this team needs to put behind them quickly. The two stars had off games, the 2-3 zone was pesky as it has been all season and the Orange were scorching hot in that second half. This loss should be viewed as an outlier to Deacon Nation, who shifted their focus to Wednesday’s home tilt with Pittsburgh, which they won handily.

“We had to come back and play a team that just beat [Syracuse] by double digits,” Forbes said. “We had to be ready to play Pitt. Because they have one of the best post players in the league. We had be ready to play.”

Forbes was referring to John Hugley, a 6’9”, 240-pound sophomore forward who is averaging 15.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, to go along with 74% free throw shooting. 

This Pitt team is scrappy and plays with a chip on their shoulder, so it is important that the Demon Deacons don’t overlook them.