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NCAAB: Syracuse, VCU to test mettle in Battle 4 Atlantis clash

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Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth arrive in the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis with opposite concerns.

While the Orange are trying to solve their uncharacteristically leaky defense, the Rams are wondering how to spark their offense.

Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth will try to do that at the other’s expense on Wednesday.

The angst for the Orange (2-1) comes after Saturday’s shocking 100-85 loss to Colgate, a team they had defeated 54 straight times in compiling the nation’s longest winning streak over a Division I opponent.

After trailing by 17 points early in the game and missing its first 12 shots from beyond the arc, Colgate riddled Syracuse’s vaunted perimeter defense by finishing 18-of-43 shots from distance. The Raiders also outrebounded the Orange by a 44-34 margin.

“We’re not winning any games if this is the defense we’re going to play,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We did not get to the 3-point shooting line.”

Buddy Boeheim (team-leading 20.0 points per game) and Jimmy Boeheim (14.3) fuel the offense along with Joseph Girard III (19.3), who has made 13 of 16 shots from the arc.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing wrong with the defense of Virginia Commonwealth (2-2). The Rams have limited opponents to 32.7 percent shooting, including 21.0 percent from 3-point range.

It’s their own shooting that has failed the Rams. Among 358 Division I teams, VCU ranks 332nd in 3-point accuracy (26.3 percent) and 328th in free-throw shooting (61.5 percent).

Vince Williams collected 21 points and six rebounds in VCU’s 56-54 loss to Chattanooga on Saturday. The Rams, however, made just 6-of-11 attempts from the foul line.

“You got to make free throws,” Rams coach Mike Rhoades said. “When you have close games like that, 6 for 11 is not good enough.”

The VCU-Syracuse winner advances to the semifinals against defending national champion Baylor (4-0) or Arizona State (2-2). On the loaded other side of the bracket are Loyola-Chicago, UConn, Auburn and Michigan State.

“You gotta be ready three nights in a row,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “It’s a tough tournament. You’ve got really good teams and every game is going to be tough.”

–Field Level Media

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