Quote by ACC-Big Ten, Duke & Wisconsin on a roll
Wisconsin – Syracuse 77-60
- Wisconsin scored the 54th point of its game at the 24 minutes mark. That’s about as many points as Syracuse gave up on a 40 minutes average in the previous 5 games. The fourth defense in the nation was blown out by Greg Gard‘s offense, who might have been a head coach for a season and a half, but he sure knows how to play a 2-3 zone, even when facing a coach that kept his seat for 41 years.
- Syracuse is the tallest team in Division I with a 6-4 (Frank Howard) and 6-5 (Andrew White III) starting duo of guards, both more than capable to cover their area of the zone. Why coach Boeheim asked the two lower wings to stay very high, turning the defense in a sort of 4-1, is a mystery. This strategy forced DaJuan Coleman to guard both Nigel Hayes in the high post and Ethan Happ in the low post. And it went as well as anyone might have expected. Syracuse was outrebounded 40-25.
- With 4 players playing on the perimeter, Syracuse was at least expected to defend the three-point line, and of course it did not happen. The Badgers finished 11-of-23 (47.8%) and even Bronson Koenig, who was allowed to shoot freely from distance given his 24.5% for the season, scored on 6 of his 9 attempts from behind the arc.
- There are plenty of different centers, more or less athletic, imposing, with good or bad fundamentals and so on. Ethan Happ is the kind of center that keeps moving and shows up wherever the defense is not expecting him to be, or at least that’s what happened for Syracuse. He finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds, third double-double in the last 4 games, and he is proving to be one of the best interior player in the nation.
- With a few seconds left in the game, Nigel Hayes missed the free throw that would have given him his first career triple double. He still finished with 9 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, set the tone and the pace of the game, kept the ball in his hands when it really mattered, had a career high in assists and took on the most dangerous offensive players in the second half.
- Syracuse was down in double digits in the first half but managed to come back behind Andrew White III, who scored 14 points in the first half, and went to the locker room down 4. But the senior transfer from Nebraska was missing in action in the second half, with Hayes all over him. And Syracuse, with its best scorer now struggling, scored only 21 points in the second half.
And if it’s not clear yet, Hayes and Happ will explain it again.