Men's Basketball

Syracuse overcomes barrage of 3s to fight back against No. 21 Cincinnati

Andrew Renneisen | Staff Photographer

Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright attempts to gain separation from Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Wright missed a potential game-winning 3 in the waning seconds of the Orange's 57-55 win over the Bearcats.

Syracuse’s defense kept breaking down. Cincinnati kept knocking down 3-pointers. It happened all game long. Syracuse continued to leave the Bearcats’ shooters open on the wings or in the corners.

Behind the fluid stroke of Sean Kilpatrick, No. 21 Cincinnati (16-4, 4-3 Big East) hit 10 3-pointers in its 57-55 loss to the No. 3 Orange (18-1, 6-0) in the Carrier Dome Monday. Kilpatrick hit six of them, the beneficiary of broken defensive plays by some of Syracuse’s freshmen. Throughout the second half especially, Cincinnati sent daggers through the Orange’s attempts to climb back or pull away.

After the game, SU head coach Jim Boeheim said two of his freshmen, Trevor Cooney and Jerami Grant, left Kilpatrick open twice. That translated to 12 points for Kilpatrick, the first three coming 39 seconds into the game when he hit a triple from the left wing to give the Bearcats an early lead.

“Freshmen are going to make mistakes, that’s why they don’t play here. (Cooney) left Kilpatrick twice, and Jerami left him twice. Two freshmen, 12 points,” Boeheim said. “We can’t afford that. They didn’t make the right read in the defensive situation. You can’t leave a guy like that open.”

Kilpatrick shot 6-for-16 from the field. He was 6-for-15 from the arc. He took one measly shot from inside the arc. Boeheim said he wanted his defense to pay particular attention to Kilpatrick, since Cashmere Wright didn’t play in Cincinnati’s last game and might’ve been off.

But Syracuse didn’t do enough of what Boeheim wanted.

Cooney said after the game the guards needed to do a better job of knowing where Kilpatrick was at all times. They didn’t do that in this game and it nearly cost Syracuse the game. He said all the Bearcats did was move the ball effectively to spread out the Orange’s defense.

“When they space it out like that it’s tough to get out to them,” Cooney said. “You’ve still got to get out there and play the 2-3 hard.”

Six of Cincinnati’s 10 3-pointers came in the second half. In all, the Bearcats attempted 14 3-pointers in the second half, good for 42.9 percent in the half.

Syracuse had a slim four-point lead at halftime, but it evaporated quickly after the break. JaQuon Parker hit a 3 from the right corner, which gave the Bearcats a 25-24 lead at 17:25.

Just more than two minutes later, Kilpatrick hit a highlight 3 from the top of the key while his momentum took him backward. The Bearcats had a seven-point lead. Syracuse had to play catch-up for the rest of the second half.

“We just starting moving the ball more, getting everybody more involved,” Parker said. “We just got a lot of open shots the second half.”

Brandon Triche made a fast-break layup with about seven minutes left that closed Syracuse’s deficit to two. But Cincinnati answered right back. Kilpatrick hit a triple from the right wing that opened the Bearcats’ lead to five.

Triche hit a jumper in the lane that closed the gap to five, but Parker hit a 3 to essentially negate the shot. Syracuse dug in and hit shots, but Cincinnati hit them, too.

SU point guard Michael Carter-Williams said the only way to fix the problem is to close out the shooters more quickly.

“Just sticking to our principles and getting out on shooters,” Carter-Willams said. “It’s what coach teaches us everyday. We broke down a few times. We can’t do that. We knew Kilpatrick and Wright came to shoot the ball, so we’ve just got to keep working on it.”

Cincinnati’s biggest 3-point attempt came in the closing seconds, and it was the one clutch shot it missed. Syracuse was clinging to a 57-55 lead. Wright put up a 3 from the top of the key that went in and out.

“It looked great. It just rolled right in and out,” Kilpatrick said. “We needed him to take the shots he took. Great shooters aren’t going to always make every shot.”

While Syracuse had defensive breakdowns and failed to recognize where Cincinnati’s shooters were, the Bearcats still hit some tough, long shots. Still, not getting out on those shooters nearly cost the Orange the game.

For a team that plays zone exclusively, it could happen again.

“They had a couple good looks, we made mistakes,” Carter-Williams said. “But they were hitting tough shots. I give all the credit in the world to them, they were hitting tough shots.”

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