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Sunday, Jan 19, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Buddy Boeheim’s Versatile Game Propels SU to 71-69 win over Virginia Tech

By Jonathon Hoppe

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

Sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim was one of the biggest question marks going into the 2019-20 Syracuse basketball season. When the Orange lost four starters a year ago, Boeheim became one of the few returning players with experience as just a sophomore.

Early on, the 6-foot-6 guard struggled to settle into his new role. Boeheim shot a combined 12-for-49 (24%) from the field in the four early-season losses against high majors (Virginia, Oklahoma St., Penn St. and Iowa). Things looked bleak for the Orange in December and Boeheim’s shooting troubles were a big reason why. 

During the Orange’s current three-game winning streak, Boeheim has been a bright spot. He is not only shooting the ball well, but he’s creating offense and adding several new dimensions to his game that compliment his three-point shooting abilities.

Boeheim is averaging 16.2 points per game, the fifth highest mark in the ACC. Orange forward Elijah Hughes is second in the conference at 19.3 points per game. Syracuse and Duke, with Vernon Carey and Tre Jones, are the only two teams with a pair of scorers in the league’s top ten. The lethal combination of Boeheim and Hughes gives the Orange a chance to win every night. 

He’s making some hard ones, too. We like Elijah to do that and right now Buddy’s doing,” said SU head coach Jim Boeheim after Syracuse’s 71-69 win over Virginia Tech. 

Hughes has been rock solid for the Orange all season long. He’s averaging 19.7 points in ACC games this year. But, Syracuse becomes a different team when Hughes gets help from Boeheim.

Boeheim has turned a corner since shooting 2-for-10 in a 68-54 loss to Iowa on December 3rd. Over the past three games, he is averaging 21 points per game, including 20+ points in back-to-back games for just the second time in his career. Plus, Boeheim has scored at least 10 points in each of the Orange’s last ten games.

The Fayetteville native has also gained confidence inside the arc with half of Boeheim’s field goals against Virginia Tech coming from two-point range. He extended a Syracuse possession by grabbing an offensive rebound and going up strong to earn two shots at the line. Those are the gritty plays that Syracuse needs from a guy who was once seen as just a spot-up shooter. 

“Becoming of his own into that prolific kind of guy. He can get to the lane, he can get to the foul line,” Hughes said after the win at Virginia Tech. 

Looking ahead, Syracuse needs Boeheim to stay on this path if the team wants any shot at making this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Orange need Boeheim to be a consistent second option to Hughes, who could end the year as the best scorer in the ACC. Syracuse has a great shot to end the season with the best one-two scoring punch in a conference filled with talent.

That gives them a chance to make some noise this spring that no one saw coming.

jahoppe@syr.edu | @jahop23