Syracuse Fans Play Significant Role in 82-70 Win Against North Florida
By Eric Moon
With 12:02 remaining in the second half, UNF’s Trip Day finished off a layup to tie the game at 54. It was the third tie in the half.
After that, Marek Dolezaj drove to the rim and put SU back in front. Next time up the court, a floater from Buddy Boeheim gave Syracuse a 58-54 lead. At the other end, fans responded to Elijah Hughes and Joe Girard III, both waving their arms and the latter slapping the floor to rile up the Loud House. Girard III sent the crowd into a frenzy with a three-pointer at the other end shortly afterwards.
From that point forward, the game belonged to the Orange and their fans, as Syracuse (7-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) took down North Florida (7-7, 0-0 Atlantic Sun) 82-70. 17,537 fans packed into the Dome on a chilly Saturday evening, only around 1,200 fans more than Wednesday night’s win against Oakland. Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim stirred up some controversy when he said the inactivity of the fans at the game was “sickening.” The Syracuse fanbase responded emphatically and Boeheim was very appreciative.
“The fans really made a big difference tonight,” said Boeheim. “It doesn’t matter how many fans are here, it just matters if they’re into the game. They were into the game right from the beginning and it certainly made a big difference.”
Sophomore Guard Buddy Boeheim was a key part of the second half run that propelled the Orange in front for good in the second half. He added that the team builds its energy on home court from the fanbase.
“In a game versus a non-conference opponent, for the fans to be that big and have that big of a role in our game was huge and we would love to feed off that and the fans were really good today,” said Boeheim.
Redshirt Junior Forward Elijah Hughes also felt the crowd’s presence and he said it was clear what kind of impact the crowd had on the team.
“We were more active on defense,” Hughes said. “We got out in transition. Buddy and Joe made some big shots to get us ahead in the second half.”
The fan support was crucial for the Orange defensively as well. A common way of beating the 2-3 Zone is to hit three-pointers and North Florida relies heavily on its shooting range. Entering the game, 46.2% of the Ospreys points came from beyond the arc, the highest percentage in the entire country.
On Saturday, North Florida took 55 shots from the field. 46 of those shots were three-point attempts with 17 makes. It’s a unique approach offensively and it was one Jim Boeheim thought his team handled well.
“No matter where you go, they’re going to get some looks,” said Boeheim. “I thought, overall, we didn’t really defend the three-point line too bad.”
SU’s next opponent is a far cry from North Florida offensively. After a week-long Holiday break, Syracuse Hosts the 2-8 Niagara Purple Eagles out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Saturday, December 28th at 7pm. Of note, former Syracuse Quarterback and current Niagara Head Coach Greg Paulus makes his return to the Dome.
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