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Syracuse 79, Pace 60: Orange start exhibition slate with win

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But as always, we can’t always have nice things...

ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Ah, good to see the hardwood once again.

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was back in action for the first of its two exhibition games on Wednesday. As expected, the Orange shooting was too much for the Pace Setters to handle as SU cruised to a 79-60 win.

The starting lineup in the backcourt was normal as expected with Joe Girard and Buddy Boeheim. The frontcourt was where most of the questions were regarding the starters. Jesse Edwards was the starting center after Syracuse confirmed that Bourama Sidibe was injured and could be out for around four weeks. The starting wingers were Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim, with highly-touted freshman Benny Williams starting on the bench.

Early on Girard and Edwards flashed a good connection on the pick-and-roll, an area that Syracuse needs to find a replacement for with Marek Dolezaj no longer at ‘Cuse. Girard showed some nice touch on passes to Edwards, who showed confidence finishing at the rim.

Edwards throughout the game showed a mixed bag of defensive action. He had some missteps, giving some players too much space to shoot or letting small guys get underneath. However, he did take two charges and block four shots as he slowly continues to get comfortable as the starter with Sidibe out for the foreseeable future.

After the team settled into the game, Syracuse broke out what it expects to be good at this year - shooting the ball from range. The Orange went 8-18 from three in the first half, led by three triples from Swider and Buddy Boeheim.

Swider in particular seemed very comfortable already in a Syracuse uniform. His rotations in the zone weren’t particularly bad and his shooting stroke is as sweet as advertised. The Villanova transfer already looks like he’ll be an important cog in the Orange machine as the season progresses. He stayed hot throughout the entire game and led all scorers with 21 points.

Benny Williams, as expected, came off the bench and showed some flashy offensive drives towards the basket. His dribble-drive ability was on display in his high school tape and could be an answer to Syracuse’s inside scoring questions.

Another answer could be Jimmy Boeheim, who showed off a variety of ways to score from the post. Yes, the size difference and level of competition is not the same. However, the Orange haven’t had a reliable post scoring option since Rakeem Christmas and that area could bring some good balance to a free-shooting SU team with Girard, Buddy Boeheim and Swider all on the floor.

Speaking of Buddy Boeheim, the big story of the game is that he walked off the court gingerly early on in the second half and grimacing with pain. He temporally went to the locker room and came back to the bench, only to have his left ankle wrapped with an ice bag. He only played 21 minutes, scoring nine points on 3-7 shooting, all from three.

The only other area of contention was Syracuse’s free throw shooting. The Orange were one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country last season, but the exhibition didn’t showcase exactly a stellar performance from the charity stripe. Syracuse only went 8-21 from the line, which is 38.1%.

Overall, a solid warmup game from Syracuse, and we got to see some good areas as to where this Orange team is strong. Swider in particular impressed the most and he should be an unsung hero when teams inevitably focus in on Buddy Boeheim throughout the season.

Now let’s hope no one else gets injured before the regular season gets underway.