Syracuse men’s basketball’s 2-point guard lineup underwhelms in loss to South Carolina

first_imgNEW YORK — With a revolving door at point guard to begin the game, Syracuse couldn’t establish any stability at a position that gave the Orange just that through its first four games.Jim Boeheim swapped Frank Howard and John Gillon for each other three times in the first four minutes, with the fifth-year senior committing two uncharacteristic turnovers and the sophomore accruing two fouls in a 15-second span before heading to the bench.In four blowout wins to begin the season, Howard and Gillon combined to score more than 20 points per game on better than 56 percent shooting from the field while turning the ball over only 11 times. In the first 20 minutes on Saturday, the pair had as many combined points as turnovers (six), and No. 18 Syracuse (4-1) fell into a hole it couldn’t emerge from in a 64-50 loss to South Carolina (6-0) at the Barclays Center on Saturday afternoon.The second half yielded far more efficient results from the Orange’s floor generals with neither turning the ball over or committing a foul, but a backcourt that often included a rare combination of both Howard and Gillon only mustered seven second-half points as Syracuse’s undefeated start faded.“We didn’t really get penetration from our guards,” Boeheim said. “The best way to do that is to have Johnny and Frank in there at the same time. Against pressure defense, that should be a lineup that works. That partially worked for a little while, but it really wasn’t the answer.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Gamecocks’ stingy man-to-man defense suffocated the point guards atop the key all afternoon. When Gillon tried a one-handed lefty swing pass less than two minutes into the game, P.J. Dozier picked it off and Boeheim summoned Howard from the bench. Not two minutes later, when Howard finally sifted into the lane, he made a layup but was called for a charge.The Orange was often left to swing the ball atop the key, hoping it would catch the Gamecocks on a slow rotation. But South Carolina was quick to shift to whoever had the ball, and only the occasional pump fake gave a Syracuse shooter the space he needed on the perimeter when he couldn’t get anywhere near the basket.“When both of us are in there, we can both attack…he can draw in a defense as well as me,” Howard said. “That’s our job, get in the paint and make a play. For the majority of the game, we didn’t do that.”On a day when SU got virtually nothing on the offensive end from either Dajuan Coleman or Paschal Chukwu, Lydon shifted to center with Syracuse needing an offensive spark and Andrew White moved to small forward. With Tyus Battle only playing 13 minutes, Howard and Gillon were given the keys to ignite any form of life into the Orange offense.Gillon committed five turnovers in the first half but had to play due to Howard’s three fouls. The pair helped spearhead some form of a comeback when Syracuse cut the lead to as few as four in the second half. But aside from Tyler Lydon’s 18 points, Syracuse didn’t get much else, especially from Gillon.Gillon was one of three players averaging in double figures heading into Saturday’s game. He only took one shot, a 3-pointer which he made early in the first half, finishing with a meager three points.“I’m not saying my teammates weren’t passing me the ball, I mean, I gotta find a way to get more shots. That’s on me,” Gillon said. “As a senior leader, I gotta find a way to will us to get over the hump. In games like this, I gotta shoot more than one shot.”A season after having only one option at point guard for the majority of the year, a scorer in Michael Gbinije who was arguably more effective off the ball, the Orange began this season with a two-pronged luxury at the position.But along with Syracuse’s promising beginning to the season, the tandem’s flourishing start came back down to earth.“I think that lineup with us two, it did work to a certain extent,” Gillon said. “But we just have to make more plays and execute.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 26, 2016 at 6:51 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidmanlast_img read more