Syracuse vs. Temple: What Went Wrong?

The Syracuse Orange suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, losing to the Temple Owls 83-79.  To say that Syracuse was "exposed" in this game and that their chances of competing for a national championship are dashed would be a complete over reaction.  Teams lose games all the time, even elite teams.  It would also be a mistake to think that Temple didn't earn this victory, because they did.  Here's a look at how the Orange faltered in their loss and what the Owls did to deserve the win:

1. Free Throw Shooting - This was the biggest statistical gap between the teams.  Temple was 29 of 36 from the stripe, making over 80% of their free throw chances.  At the other end, Syracuse was a pathetic 19 of 35, for 56%.  Michael Carter-Williams was the most egregious contributor to Syracuse's foul line woes.  After making all the clutch free throws down the stretch to secure the win over Detroit, Carter-Williams was 7 for 15 on Saturday.  If he's able to make 10 of his free throws, if not more, it would have been a different game down the stretch.

2. No-Three Zone - Syracuse made just two three-point attempts against the Owls on just 10 attempts, while Temple had eight three-pointers go down for them.  James Southerland only attempted two shots from behind the arc, which isn't nearly enough.  Syracuse needed to try harder to free up Southerland for some opportunities.  If they had made one or two more shots form the perimeter, it would have been a different game.

3. Michael in Foul Trouble - While Syracuse benefited from several Temple players being in foul trouble, Carter-Williams spent the end of the game playing with four fouls.  Carter-Williams needs to be better about defending players, especially in the press, without fouling.  He also needs to be smarter about fouling and recognize that the team can't survive with him on the bench in foul trouble for long periods of time.  Having him in foul trouble down the stretch added a lot of apprehension to the Syracuse sidelines.

4. Beaten on the Boards - The box score will say that Syracuse won the rebounding battle, but Temple did well to compete with them on the boards, despite the Orange having a significant height advantage.  The Owls hit the offensive glass hard, which challenged Syracuse's big guys and kept the Orange out of transition.  At times, Syracuse was out-toughed by Temple, which should not be the case considering the size and strength of their big men.

5. Temple on Offense - Instead of the Syracuse zone dictating terms, it was the Temple offense that had Syracuse re-acting to thinks and looking uncomfortable.  The Owls had the lead for much of the second half and during that time their spacing of the zone was masterful, which allowed them to knock down a few key perimeter shots and gave them a lot of space to maneuver close to the basket.

6. Where's Brandon? - Brandon Triche got off to a fast start, scoring nine points early in the game.  Triche also had a couple buckets late and finished with 17 points, but for long stretches of the game he seemed to be absent from the Syracuse offense.  Carter-Williams is clearly the conductor of the offense, but Triche needs to assert himself better, especially when Syracuse trails for as long as they did in the second half.  Temple, like a lot of teams, appeared to struggle handling a two-guard with the strength of Triche going to the basket, and in a game like this Triche needs to step up like a senior is supposed to, demand the ball, and lead by example.

7. Home court advantage? - Was this game in Madison Square Garden or in the Wachovia Center?  The Orange's home away from home didn't really feel like it, as the Temple fan base was not only noticeable but considerably louder and more engaged than the Syracuse fans in attendance.  That's not to blame the fans for the loss, but at times New York's college team looked like the road team inside MSG, which should never happen.

Back to the Syracuse Orange Newsfeed