Syracuse, N.Y. — In one last non-conference tuneup before ACC play starts in earnest, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team handled business against the Niagara Purple Eagles by a final score of 71-57. Elijah Hughes flirted with a a triple-double as Syracuse moved to 8-5 on the season.
Freshman center Jesse Edwards did not play against Niagara with a sprained ankle. Sophomore guard Howard Washington did not enter the game either — Jim Boeheim said after the North Florida game that Washington was getting his knee looked at.
After the tip, Boeheim’s club came out aggressive on the offensive end. The Orange were able to build an early 13-2 lead by the first media timeout behind two Buddy Boeheim triples. The game was never close after.
Elijah Hughes was able to lead the way for Syracuse in the first half mostly by finding his teammates in a game that didn’t require him to score the ball initially.
Quincy Guerrier and Brycen Goodine checked in first off the bench for Syracuse. Although Guerrier grabbed two rebounds and blocked a shot, the Syracuse bench didn’t contribute much until Robert Braswell checked in.
For the second game in a row, Braswell checked in and made a three-pointer almost immediately. He took two 3s in the first half against Niagara and made them both, tying a career-high.
Niagara head coach Greg Paulus mixed in some 2-3 zone against SU, but to minimal avail as the Orange got open looks on the offensive end. The Orange also had no problem rebounding over a smaller Purple Eagle squad on either end of the floor.
Later in the half, Boeheim knocked down his third three-pointer, while Hughes recorded 8 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the first 20 minutes while playing some guard minutes.
Syracuse went into the half with a 41-28 lead.
Out of the intermission, Buddy Boeheim continued his hot shooting, knocking down two more treys in the first four minute segment. Hughes then scored six straight points for the Orange, which kept Niagara at bay.
Goodine was able to get more run in the second half too. He scored his first points since the Georgia Tech game on a pair of made free throws after a steal, but he struggled to make shots.
Niagara did make a run at Syracuse as the second half went on but never seriously threatened to get within single-digits.
When the game got down to 12, Hughes got to the free throw line and made both shots from the charity stripe. He followed that up with a turnaround jumper from the post that kept Niagara from getting within striking distance.
Joe Girard followed that up late with his own 5-0 run which included a pull up two and a three-pointer.
Niagara didn’t go down without a fight, but Syracuse answered the bell and closed out the non-conference schedule with a win.
Hughes finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists while Boeheim scored 15 points on five made 3s.
Bourama Sidibe finished with a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Girard had 10 points while Dolezaj had 9. Braswell finished with 6 points.
Syracuse begins ACC play — while acknowledging the Orange have played two conference games already — next Saturday against Notre Dame. That game tips from the Carrier Dome at 4:00 p.m. ET.