The Seminoles have been eliminated from the ACCT after a 96-57 loss to the Syracuse Orange in the second round of the tournament. They had no answer for head coach Jim Boeheim's notorious zone defense and got caught on high ball screens that led to 11 three’s for Syracuse.
Player of the game: Mathew Cleveland was arguably the only spark for the Seminoles, ending the game with 13 points on 6-13 from the field.
Florida State was set to face a team they went 1-1 against in the regular season, winning the last matchup in the Carrier Dome on Jan.15. The Orange filters some of the best scorers in the ACC including five players averaging double digits, with two starters that shoot 40% or better from three. The matchup between No.8 Florida State and No.9 Syracuse was bound to be a defensive battle for FSU as they played a team with a completely different brand of basketball.
The Seminoles welcomed back their leading scorer in Caleb Mills and their leading rebounder in Anthony Polite just last week that propelled them to a three game winning streak to end the regular season. Head coach Leonard Hamilton and the staff started the game with Polite, RayQuan Evans, Wyatt Wilkes, John Butler, Tanor Ngom, Polite.
Syracuse’s Buddy Boheim made the first bucket at the 18:24 mark on the free throw line. After a foul called on Evans, Jalen Warely was checked into the game and Ngom connected on a layup to put the Noles up 2-1. The Seminoles were dominating the glass to start the game, which led to a Wilkes and-one early in the ball game. Harrison Prieto went into the game for Ngom and Joseph Girard took advantage of the miscommunication to knock down a triple, game tied 6-6 after a Butler jumper.
Cleveland and Mills checked into game four minutes into the half after Boheim found the bottom of the net to put the Orange up 8-6. Cole Swider and Buddy Boeheim knocked down back-to-back threes for Syracuse to put them up 14-10 while Jimmy Boeheim was sitting down with two fouls. Their zone defense caused immense struggles in the first 10 minutes of game action as the Seminoles didn’t have any answer on how to penetrate the paint. Swider sprayed in his second triple and Hamilton called timeout down 19-10.
The Orange rode a 17-2 run as they extended their lead to 25-10 after back-to-back triples from Swider and Girard. Mills finally broke the streak and put the Noles on the board with a three to give FSU 13. Polite had a beautiful transition finish for an and-one and Florida State was down 27-16 with eight minutes left in the half.
Florida State started the game 1-10 from three point land while the Orange were 6-10 in the first 15 minutes. The Noles were down 35-20 with four minutes remaining after another Girard three, his point total was 11 and Swider had 13 at that point. The Orange scored 22 of their 39 points in transition, which was more than the Seminoles point total of 20. Syracuse had back-to-back and-ones in transition that helped push their largest lead of the game to 44-22.
Prieto scored four straight points for the Noles and Butler picked up his fourth foul with a minute left, putting Swider at the line shooting three. The Orange ended the half hitting five of their last six field goal attempts to propel them to a 49-26 lead heading into the locker room. Swider had a game-high 20 points, paired with Girard’s 13 as they combined for six of Syracuse’s seven threes. Mills was the Seminoles highest scorer with five points while Evans had two fouls and Butler earned three.
Syracuse had the hot hand in the first half, sticking to their strengths of three point shooting and trapping the sideline on defense leading to transition buckets. They shot 47% from beyond the arc and 53% from the field. The Orange also led the defensive categories, forcing seven first half turnovers and five steals that led to 23 fastbreak points.
The Orange found the bottom of the net in the first five seconds of the second half and Evans was able to drop in two free throws to cut the deficit down 51-28. They played a man press after every dead ball but Syracuse still found a way to score in every possession the Seminoles were caught sleeping. Boeheims squad picked up four team fouls in the first three minutes of the second half while center Bourama Sidibe sat down with four of his own.
Swider kept his stroke right off the break scoring an and-one triple to extend the lead and Buddy Boeheim found the bottom of the night on the very next play, Syracuse led 62-32. After the Seminoles were caught looking up at a 30 point deficit, Hamilton called a timeout with the Noles scoring just six second half points. The Orange rode a 6-0 run right after the timeout as FSU dealt with a four minute scoring drought going 0-7 on their latest shot attempts. Mills was shooting 2-10, Butler and Evans were shooting 1-6, and Polite was shooting 1-5.
Syracuse sophomore Frank Anselem helped push the lead to 81-41 after the Boeheim brothers found their rhythm in transition. Cleveland was the Seminoles only bright spot as he scored three straight buckets, extending his total to 13. Anselem had three blocks and 11 boards, with most of the production dealt in the second half. Buddy Boeheim and Swider sat a generous number of minutes in the second half as Syracuse’s focus was already turned to tomorrows game against the Duke Blue Devils.
Ngom was a force in the paint late in the second half but Hamilton and Boeheim decided to start plugging in their bench with four minutes remaining. The Noles were shooting 1-23 from three point land and 20-63 from the field. Butler finally found the bottom of the net with two minutes remaining, splashing a three from the corner. All the starters were out for Syracuse with one minute remaining as they held a 94-57 lead. The Orange finished the game with a blowout win, 96-57.
Cleveland guided the Noles with 13 points on the match. Swider was the main character of today’s story with 28 and 13 rebounds, shooting 9-15 from the field. The Boeheim brothers combined for 26 points and eight rebounds while Girard had 16 points with four assists. The Seminoles end the 2021-22 season with a 17-14 record.