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Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020 at 10:42 pm

SU’s Strong First Half Fuels 76-50 Victory Over Boston College

By Zachary Levine

CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter

Ten minutes into 2020’s first edition of Syracuse vs. Boston College, you might not have been laughed at for thinking the final score would end up to be 30-25, or something along those lines. After all, it was 10-5 Syracuse at the ten-minute mark in the game. SU’s offense clearly hadn’t carried over their overtime performance from Saturday night’s matchup against defending national champion Virginia. Not yet, at least.

Then Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes woke up. Defensively, the team looked solid from the get-go, and that formula allowed the Orange to blow a hole right through the scoresheet. Once shooting confidence grew, the Orange couldn’t miss.

“It was just a matter of a little better defense, and then when they got some open shots, they just couldn’t make them. We made some shots, we made some big shots early, but I thought the offense was good movement was good,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game.

Buddy Boeheim finished with 22 pts, aided by four threes. Hughes had 19, Joe Girard III had 12, and Marek Dolezaj looked confident with ten points of his own. Even Brycen Goodine, sporting his new facemask, dropped five on the night.

“Early on, I wasn’t making my shots. I started one for four, and then I was able to get to the lane a couple times in the fast break and made two layups, and that kind of just got me going and the team going,” sophomore guard Buddy Boeheim said.

It seems to be a year in which anyone can lose—we saw both Syracuse and their opponent BC beat defending national champions Virginia. We’ve seen several of the blue blood programs fall early this season. The Orange seem to be responding to this chaos by taking the season one game at a time. Sure, we haven’t seen a Syracuse team start this poorly (record-wise) in years, but in a locker room that hasn’t lost confidence, SU looks poised for a competitive rematch against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Now, it’s clear this Syracuse team has been looking for an X-factor. Sure, Elijah Hughes brings consistency. He plays almost every minute of every game and can be counted on to put up anywhere from 15-25 points on a decent night. But this team cannot operate with a single-
player-does-all strategy. Sure, the offense might have been aided by a strong first half defensive performance, but for the second straight game, things changed for the better offensively when Buddy Boeheim started knocking down shots. He brought an aggressive style of play onto the floor, and while he certainly can drive into the lane, he wasn’t afraid to take gutsy threes that dropped.

Boeheim’s offensive season hasn’t quite been as consistent as Hughes, but in the last two games, he could be counted on to electrify the offense for the Orange. Once Buddy got going,
so did his teammates, such as Freshman Joe Girard III, who is still acclimating to life in the ACC.

In that overtime in the UVA game, perhaps the most Twitter-worthy shot of the game was the crazy prayer Boeheim threw up as
the shot clock was expiring. When it dropped, nothing else seemed to miss for the Orange.

If Buddy continues to provide the much-needed offensive spark, and if the Syracuse defense keeps a lock on their opponent from an early stage in the contest, a 10-7 Orange team that sits at .500 in ACC play might be able to make a run at the tournament bubble. Or at least an NIT berth that will give their young guys, such as Girard, a chance to experience tournament play.

“You’ve got to go into each and every game thinking you are going to win. Follow what the coach is saying, the game plans, and make sure that you are staying focused and doing what you do,” freshman Joe Girard III said.

It’s that optimism that will drive the Orange.

Three more ranked matchups sit on the schedule for the now 10-7 Orange. They have now proven they can win back-to-back conference games as they have grown as a squad that relies on each other’s successes to drive the momentum.

The ACC season is still young, and SU sits at 3-3 in conference play. Students are back on campus, and fans are going to games. With the squad taking things day by day, there isn’t much room to declare this season a step back just yet.

zjlevine@syr.edu | @zacharylevine25