Syracuse Drops Second Straight in Dome, 71-59 to No. 14 Buffalo
By JD Raucci
CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In the 119-year history of Syracuse basketball, only once have the Orange made the NCAA Tournament after losing three non-conference games (2016). Never have they done it after losing four. That’s going to have to change if SU wants to get dancing in 2019. Syracuse (7-4, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) dropped its fourth non-conference game of the season on Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome, falling 71-59 to the No. 14 Buffalo Bulls (11-0, 0-0 Mid-American).
For the second straight game, the Orange held a halftime lead, this time clinging to a 36-32 advantage at the break. Just three days after having a season-worst shooting performance against Old Dominion (33%), Syracuse shot the lights out in the first half, converting on 57.1% of its shots in the first frame. The defense also showed out, holding a Bulls team that came into the game averaging over 85 points per outing to just 35.5% shooting while also forcing nine first-half turnovers.
However, for the second straight game the Orange could not hold to that halftime advantage as everything unraveled in the second half. The Bulls took their first lead of the game on a Jeremy Harris three-pointer with 9:40 to go and SU never regained the lead back. Buffalo outscored the Orange 39-23 in the second and, once again, Jim Boeheim was not pleased with his team’s offensive production.
“We’re not going to win too many games scoring 23 points in the second half.” Boeheim said, “It just goes back to offense. We’ve got to find a way to get some offense.”
After their blazing first half start, the Orange cooled down considerably in the second half, shooting just 27.6% from the floor and missing four of seven free throws down the stretch.
“We missed 12 free throws last game.” Boeheim said, “We missed eight free throws tonight. We’ve got to be able to convert those. But, we’re not playing well at all on the offensive end.”
One of the missing pieces on the offensive end on Tuesday was star guard Tyus Battle. The junior finished the night with just 11 points on 4-10 shooting and even said himself that he was not nearly as aggressive as he should have been. Boeheim, on the other hand, had a different explanation for his star’s struggles.
“The guy just guarded him.” Boeheim said, “He couldn’t get by him. Simple, he could not get by him.”
The only bright spots of the night were Elijah Hughes and Frank Howard. Hughes poured in a team-high 16 points, adding four rebounds, two steals and a block along the way. Howard had by far his best game of the season production-wise. The senior finished with season-highs in points (13), field goals made (5), three-point field goals made (3) and rebounds (4).
But despite their great individual outings, neither was pleased with the final result.
“We weren’t in our spots on defense.” Hughes said, “They just out-toughed us.”
“Nobody’s happy in this locker room.” Howard said, “It is what it is. We’re not going to not try to look at reality. This one hurt. We got punched in our mouth. How do you feel after you go home after the game punched in the mouth? That’s literally how I feel.”
The Orange now have a few days to regroup and get ready for their next non-conference test. The Arkansas State Red Wolves come to the Carrier Dome on Saturday, December 22 for a 2 p.m. start as SU looks to snap its two-game skid.
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