The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team moved to 5-4 on the season after securing a much-needed win at Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Orange exploded for 97 points on Georgia Tech, the No. 24 team in defensive efficiency coming into the day (KenPom).
The defense was also solid, limiting the Yellow Jackets to just 38.1 percent shooting and forcing 19 turnovers. The ACC’s leading scorer, Michael DeVoe, was held to just 7 points on the day.
The win moves Syracuse to 5-4 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC. Here are four takeaways from the game on Saturday.
Career-highs for Elijah Hughes and Buddy Boeheim
Elijah Hughes got off to an auspicious start in this game, connecting on his first four triples of the contest. For much of the first half, Hughes was outscoring the Georgia Tech team. He played a little bit of two-guard in the first half, too.
Hughes finished his day with a career-high 33 points on 10-15 shooting (6-11 from deep) and by going 7-7 from the line. He had a pair of raucous dunks off backdoor cuts to boot, a series he and Marek Dolezaj continue to connect on time and again.
Buddy Boeheim was able to get loose in the second half and eclipsed his previous career-high against Bucknell.
Boeheim scored 26 points on 6-13 shooting from distance and by going 4-4 from the line.
That’s a superb effort for Syracuse’s two leading-scorers.
Junior class steps up
Syracuse might go as far as its junior class will take it. Hughes had 33 points as mentioned, but the Orange upperclassmen all stepped up today in some form.
Marek Dolezaj finished his day with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks (Slovakian Stat Sheet Stuffer, man).
Bourama Sidibe had 5 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals and 1 block. He left left some opportunities short and fouled 4 times, but overall had a solid showing.
Howard Washington is technically a sophomore by elgibility, but the he was the first guard off the bench today. Washington dished out 8 of Syracuse’s 23 assists in just 17 minutes of action. He also scored 2 points, grabbed 2 rebounds and had a steal, too.
Given the team’s youth, Syracuse needs its experienced players to step up. They did that today.
Battle of the boards
Perhaps overshadowed by the offensive effort and point differential, Syracuse won the battle of the boards in this one 40-30. Dolezaj had 9 for SU, Sidibe had 8 and Hughes had 5 boards.
James Banks of Georgia Tech was limited to just 3 rebounds on Saturday.
Nice work by the Orange, especially considering its best rebounder, Quincy Guerrier, only had 2 rebounds in limited time against GT.
Overall, a solid effort in that category this week after struggling on the glass in NYC.
A good win, but work to do
Big picture, this was a nice bounce-back effort for Syracuse to get the win. We still don’t have NET rankings — the sorting tool the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses to evaluate teams — just yet. Given that this win was on the road, it will likely fall under quadrant one (at best) or quadrant two. Last year Georgia Tech finished No. 126 in NET.
As a refresher, here’s how the quadrants break down:
Quadrant 1 (Q1): Home (1-30) Neutral (1-50) Away (1-75)
Quadrant 2 (Q2): Home (31-75) Neutral (51-100) Away (76-135)
Quadrant 3 (Q3): Home (76-160) Neutral (101-200) Away (136-240)
Quadrant 4 (Q4): Home (161-353) Neutral (201-353) Away (241-353)
Still, with a 5-4 record, there’s work to do. The last remaining shot for a quality non-conference win will be next weekend at Georgetown. Syracuse will likely need that win just to get back into the bubble conversation. Right now the Orange aren’t in that discussion.
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