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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019 at 12:51 am

Guerrier Shines in the Battle of the Boeheims

By Patrick Gunn

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

Syracuse Men’s Basketball had trouble building a lead against Cornell throughout the first half and towards the end of the second half on Wednesday. Jimmy Boeheim seemed unstoppable at times, and he carried the Big Red deep into the second half.

Then, Quincy Guerrier came into the game, and Elijah Hughes started to drain his shots.

Their strong performances led to Syracuse (3-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) winning 72-53 over Cornell (1-4, 0-0 Ivy League). Buddy Boeheim had a strong performance with 16 points in the Battle of Boeheims, but Guerrier and Hughes led the charge in the second half.

“We just had that one little spurt when Quincy got inside, got fouled and then hit the three,” said Head Coach Jim Boeheim of Guerrier’s performance. “That gave us the separation.”

That three was Guerrier’s first career three-pointer, a corner shot that gave the Orange an 11-point lead. That was an important moment for the freshman.

“I was kind of happy,” Guerrier said. “In my first three games, I missed all of my three-points. So, I was like, I’ve got to hit one. Because I’m a good shooter, people probably don’t know that I’m a good shooter, but I’m telling you guys, I’m a good shooter.”

Guerrier’s confidence on his jump shot is important, but his ability to drive the ball to the basket excites SU. Guerrier got to the charity stripe on two consecutive possessions after bulldozing his way to the basket. His third chance resulted in a nice layup. Those five points fueled their second half scoring spree.

“I was just using my physicality, going to the rim, play hard. That’s it,” Guerrier said.

Guerrier’s physicality will be an important piece to the puzzle for Syracuse’s season. Guerrier often gets compared to Oshae Brissett, not only because both are forwards from Canada, but also Guerrier has the skill set to be as strong in the paint as the current Raptor. He might surpass Brissett as a shooter. Buddy Boeheim was proud to see his teammate step it up.

“We knew Q could do this coming in, he’s a very capable shooter,” Boeheim said. “He works on it just as much as anyone, and to see him knock one down and be able to get inside in there and get a couple buckets was huge. And he’s one of the stronger, physical guys in college, so he can do that every game.”

Quincy was not alone in this game. Hughes once again stepped it up down the stretch, scoring 15 of his season-high 22 points in the second half. He had numerous big-time moments, from breaking a player’s ankles while stepping back and hitting a three-pointer to rebounding his own miss on a layup to get fouled and go to the free throw line. Hughes was all over the court and his confidence showed.

“Elijah’s a great player,” Boeheim said of his teammate. “He’s going to keep getting better every game. I’m not surprised about that.”

Coach Boeheim even said that Hughes might see the ball at the point more with Jalen Carey out with a thumb injury.

“Elijah can swing back there,” Boeheim said. “We used him as a guard now even. The last two plays, he made the three and then the drive for the three-point play, so he’s good when he has the ball at the top. So we would use that.”

Despite all this positivity, Coach Boeheim was critical of was his team’s interior defense and his centers’ performances. Jesse Edwards was nonexistent, playing only two minutes after several sloppy plays near the glass.

“Jesse was completely outquicked, out-physicaled out there, and you can’t have that” Boeheim said about his performance.

Meanwhile, Bourama Sidibe played a season-high 28 minutes, spending the first 17 minutes of the game on the court. He looked solid offensively, showing the promise he had offensively early in his career.

However, Coach Boeheim removed Sidibe after committing four fouls, favoring Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj in the front court. Boeheim stated his opinions about his centers, particularly Edwards, “You either get it done inside, or we’ll go in a different direction. We’ll play three forwards, that’s what I can see coming.”

Syracuse has one more game at the Dome to correct its interior defense as the Orange host Bucknell on Saturday at noon.

pagunn@syr.edu | @patgunner_