Syracuse Fans Play Significant Role in 82-70 Win Against North Florida
By Brandon Ross
CitrusTV Men’s Basketball Reporter
There was no rush for SU head coach Jim Boeheim to pull his starters against Niagara after Syracuse started hot with a 20-4 run. However, once the bench players did tap in, production became hard to come by, mistakes came in droves and the Purple Eagles picked up some momentum.
“We got out of rhythm with just two guys going in,” Boeheim complained. “It shouldn’t change the rhythm, but it did and completely turned the game. And we never got back in the rhythm.”
Nonetheless, Syracuse (8-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) maintained enough of a cushion to edge out Niagara (2-9, 0-0 Mid-Atlantic) 71-57 in the Orange’s final game of non-conference play.
Forward Jesse Edwards and point guard Howard Washington both missed the contest with injuries, forcing Quincy Guerrier and Brycen Goodine to carry a bigger workload than usual.
Guerrier failed to register a single point for the fourth time this season as the Canadian played 15 minutes, roughly average for him. The plan was to play him more, but his lackluster performance on the other side of the ball cost him some playing time.
“I didn’t play a lot because I wasn’t getting back on defense,” Guerrier said. “It’s just in my mind. I’ve got to think about running back on defense because that’s the most important thing.”
Goodine saw the floor tonight for the first time since the Georgia Tech game on December 7th. In his 11 minutes, the freshman went 0-4 from the field while logging two rebounds, no assists and one turnover. His two points on the night came from the free throw line.
“Brycen’s a work in progress,” Boeheim said. “He got in the open court and couldn’t finish, something I know he can do. We know he’s better than this. We’ve just got to keep working with him.”
These less-than-stellar outings from the bench did not, however, stop the starters from strong games.
Elijah Hughes finished with 19 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds. If he had completed the triple-double, he would’ve been the first Syracuse player to achieve the feat since current Orange assistant Allen Griffin against Pittsburgh in 2001. Bourama Sidibe also scraped together a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards.
Following the win, Syracuse ends non-conference play with an 8-5 record and a 1-1 mark to start conference games. The Orange dive into the thick of ACC play after the new year when Notre Dame visits the Dome on January 4th.
“It’s going to be a day-to-day thing, but we have to get better,” Boeheim said. “We’re not good enough right now.”
Washington and Edwards are expected to be back for that game, but that won’t necessarily get SU out of the woods with injuries. Boeheim added that he’s not sure point guard Jalen Carey will play again this season. Plus, forward Robert Braswell has been dealing with leg issues and might take a medical redshirt, but no decision has been made on that front yet.
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