The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team lost their first game in 11 contests this season on Saturday, December 22nd, versus the Temple Owls, during the Chevrolet Gotham Classic in Madison Square Garden.
Being that Syracuse came into the match ranked as the third-best team in the country while Temple came in unranked, some may start to panic seeing that the Orange gave up the lead in the beginning of the second half and never got it back, not even once.
Instead of going into panic mode, this loss can, and should, be used as a learning tool.
The Owls made 33.3% of their three-point attempts. They came into the game connecting on less than 30% of their tries from distance in each of their three games leading into their contest with the Orange.
Versus Syracuse, Temple made eight of their attempts from deep. The last time they did that was against the only other ranked opponent they faced, the Duke Blue Devils.
On the Orange end, Syracuse connected on the least amount of threes, two, since their outdoor game against the San Diego State Aztecs atop the USS Midway, where they made one. The team entered the match making at least 35% of their attempts from beyond the arc in five of their last six games, but in this game made a mere 16.7% of their tries from long range, their worst shooting performance from three all season.
From the charity stripe, Syracuse and Temple took almost the same amount of attempts, but the Orange made 10 less than the Owls; Temple was 29-for-36 and Syracuse was 19-for-34.
The Owls' leading scorer, senior guard Khalif Wyatt, made all 15 of his tries from the foul line, accounting for more than half of the team's makes.
Syracuse failed to contain Wyatt overall, as he crossed into 30-point territory for the first time in Temple's 11 games this season, with 33 points to end the game. His season average through 10 games coming in was 14.5 points per game.
On the boards, the Orange lost the rebound battle overall, 44 to 41, but they did tie the Owls in offensive rebounds, with 19.
However, Temple did a little more with their offensive rebounds, making 13 second-chance points to Syracuse's 11.
The Owls led in defensive rebounds, 25 to 22, but more importantly in scoring off of their rebounds, with 20 points to 15 from the Orange.
Despite all of the above working against Syracuse, they tied the game on four separate occasions in the second half at 53-, 55-, 57-, and 59-all.
Senior forward James Southerland had to go cold from beyond the arc and receive no help from long range for the first time this season.
Sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams had to create less than nine opportunities for his teammates, ending his streak of nine consecutive games with at least nine assists.
With Temple having one of the best overall performances of the season, Syracuse was still alive late in the match, forcing Wyatt to have to make all of his attempts from the foul line, which he did.
Every team has an off day at some point. The Owls had to play above their average in order for this game to end the way it did.
So wanting Syracuse to play better moving forward makes sense, but stay off of the panic button unless this abnormal game starts to overcome what has otherwise been a season of strong performances.
Do not forget, in the game prior to Temple, Syracuse was in another close match in the closing moments versus the University of Detroit Mercy Titans. That game was all about free throws at the end as well, and that time, Carter-Williams played the Wyatt role, going 9-for-10 en route to a four-point win that swung in favor of the Orange.