If the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team left any doubt before, it’s clear now. They’ll live behind the three point line when their season begins against Virginia on Wednesday.
Syracuse attempted 22-of-56 (39 percent) shots from outside in the two exhibition games, leaning into what’ll likely drive the offense. That and junior forward Elijah Hughes. He concluded the preseason 13-for-22 with 39 points.
Joe Girard entered in the late stages of the first half and posted seven points in 31 seconds, trading triples atop the arc with Yasiin Joseph. Separate bursts from Jalen Carey, Quincy Guerrier and Girard led the Orange to a 77-58 victory after trailing by eight in the first half.
Hughes (15 points against Carleton) twice drilled threes on the left side of the arc to start his preseason 7-for-9 from outside. Buddy Boeheim (12 pts, 4 assists) set him up after him and Hughes forced a left-side turnover. Hughes created his second in the left corner with a step-back. He couldn’t solve Syracuse’s early rebounding woes.
Carleton converted a pair of put-backs to lead 12-6, as Hughes failed to secure a rebound in mid-air, falling to the ground for a travel after SU already allowed an offensive rebound. Carey hit the bench early, funneling minutes to Hughes and Brycen Goodine (8 pts) on the ball. Hughes missed a pair of jumpers, while Goodine double-dribbled against pressure as Carleton held a 15-13 lead into the second timeout.
Marek Dolezaj found Boeheim for three in the right corner after a baseline in-bounds. Goodine made a layup in transition to push the Orange ahead 20-19. Boeheim solidified the lead with a free throw, before Goodine fed him for another triple. SU controlled the half from there.
Carey returned after nearly 10 minutes on the bench through the middle of the quarter to lead a 7-2 run into halftime. His initial drive to the rim with three minutes remaining got tipped out-of-bounds in traffic. He drove again, finding Sidibe on the baseline for two.
Almost three minutes later, he stole the ball from Connor Vreekan and rushed in transition, only to get blocked at the rim by Isiah Osborne. He stepped off the ball in the left corner, while the defense laid off, leading Hughes to try him in the left corner. Carey converted, then blocked Vreekan at the three-point line to set himself up for a transition layup from Boeheim.
Carey had his own 30-second run, and the Orange led 41-31 at half.
Hughes reached double-figures early in the second half with an elbow jumper from Boeheim and three free throws. Syracuse tried to free him off the ball with high screens, while Hughes traveled baseline. Defensively, he rotated for a steal and block on the weak side.
Quincy Guerrier scored his first points 25 minutes into the game, grabbing an offensive board on the left side and finishing through contact. Boeheim found him on the dribble, flashing his fourth assist. A deep two earned him eight second-half points.
Buddy’s next attempt to get into the lane ended with his foot out-of-bounds on the sideline. Adrian Autry shot a shocked expression behind the play, before Jim turned toward him, “what’d he say?” Earlier, Boeheim recreated Dolezaj’s motion after an over-the-back call as he breaks into regular season form a week ahead of the Virginia opener. “Not a foul.”
Hughes slammed the door with under 10 minutes remaining, setting Goodine up for a three, then posting-up close to establish ground for his own jumper. Goodine led Girard in transition for a layup into the eight-minute timeout, and Syracuse led 65-50.
Boeheim’s rotation remained tight in the second half: Carey, Boeheim, Hughes, Guerrier, Dolezaj, Sidibe, Goodine and Girard. Ultimately, Syracuse finished the game with a 77-58 win over Carlton.
Syracuse will officially begin the regular (and ACC) season next week. Virginia is scheduled for Wednesday Nov 6 at 9 p.m.