The only chance Georgia Tech and Syracuse — two of the worst spot-up shooting teams in college basketball — would engage in a shootout would’ve been if Michael Devoe and Elijah Hughes got going.
Hughes provided his share, with an earth-shattering three minutes for an offense starving for made shots through its three-game losing streak. Syracuse beat Georgia Tech by a final score of 97-63. Hughes and Buddy Boeheim combined to make 12 threes.
Devoe only scored one point in the first half and seven in the game.
In the first half, Hughes set himself off passes from Joseph Girard III and Boeheim to drill shots from above the arc, the right corner, then finally four-to-five steps behind the right wing. After he hit a spot-up three from the left wing and Boeheim followed the next possession, Syracuse held a 15-4 lead.
Bubba Parham and the Georgia Tech offense struggled to hit shots and move the ball inside against the zone before foul trouble struck its bigs. Bourama Sidibe pressured the offensive boards and Marek Dolezaj drew contact with hesitation moves.
Dolezaj hit 5-of-6 at the line, producing five straight points with the Orange with a pass from above the arc to Hughes dunking through James Banks III. Banks flushed a dunk over Hughes to keep the Yellow Jackets within 23-9, but by the end of the half Georgia Tech only produced two more points than Hughes scored.
Hughes and Sidibe stymied Tech’s only run of the half, a fast break burst from Devoe and Khalid Moore’s three. Hughes drew three free throws and converted all of them, Sidibe split a pair before nailing a put back inside through another foul. Sidibe, Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier thrust Moore and Banks to the bench before the end of the half with foul trouble. Banks started the second half on the bench.
Howard Washington entered the game as Syracuse’s primary point guard, finding Boeheim for a three on the left wing to answer Moses Wright’s floater. Boeheim looked for another, that Dolezaj hauled in and kicked to Hughes who hit a three to go up 38-21. Hughes hit four more free throws, Dolezaj added four points of his own and Syracuse increased its lead to 48-28 at halftime, putting Hughes on pace for the Syracuse single-game scoring record.
After halftime, the Orange pushed beyond a 20-point lead after the 20-minute break. Boeheim drilled an early three, then another on a feed from Dolezaj, who had rushed to Shembari Phillips’ fast-break layup after he turned it over. Boeheim then hit a turnaround jumper from the elbow off the catch to cap his own 8-0 run.
Boeheim drilled another three to build Syracuse’s largest lead, 59-32, as Georgia Tech’s turnovers mounted with six more in the first eight minutes of the half. Banks and Wright drew fouls on Sidibe and Guerrier moments later, thrusting Robert Braswell into action midway through the half.
But Syracuse had an answer to everything. Hughes broke the press Josh Pastner threw at the Orange after Parham stole and dunked Boeheim’s pass. Girard drilled back-to-back threes of his own out of timeout and Dolezaj slid over to center to stuff Wright from behind inside.
Hughes largely deferred to his teammates early in the second, but broke 30 with a backdoor cut from Dolezaj and spot-up three out of a timeout. Dolezaj stole a pass from Evan Cole to set Boeheim up for two more in transition, then Buddy splashed his sixth three to tie Hughes outside with six minutes remaining. Boeheim and Hughes combined for 59 points — both had career-highs in points — in an offense that had recently struggled to reach 60 total points period.
The Orange forced 19 turnovers, held Devoe to 1-for-9 shooting and even hit 22-of-26 from the free throw line. Washington provided eight assists off the bench and Sidibe secured four offensive rebounds. Syracuse assisted on 23 of its 29 makes.
SU gets a week off after putting its season back on the rails, before another much-needed win in a game against the Georgetown Hoyas in Washington next Saturday.