PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team bounced back in its second game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, holding off the Arizona State Sun Devils 92-84.
Jim Boeheim kept his starting lineup intact with Joe Girard, Buddy Boeheim, Jimmy Boeheim, Cole Swider and Jesse Edwards. Arizona State’s Marcus Bagley did not travel with the team due to a knee injury.
Both teams got off to hot starts offensively. Jimmy Boeheim once again scored the first bucket for Syracuse. Buddy Boeheim then scored seven of Syracuse’s next nine points. Arizona State wanted to beat Syracuse down the floor before the zone could set up and that was a strategy worked initially as 6-of-9 shooting gave the Sun Devils a 14-11 lead at the first media timeout.
Buddy was very determined to score for Syracuse. He continued his offensive onslaught, electing to take his defender one-on-one instead of running the offense. He drove to the left side and pump-faked his defender on the baseline, drew contact and made the bucket. He completed the three point play. Then he made a jumper. Then he got into the lane a drew another foul and made both. His offense carried Syracuse to a narrow 23-21 lead through the first eleven minutes despite the defensive slog.
As the half wore on, Syracuse eventually got other players involved and the defense tightened up. Girard banked in a pull up two and then followed that up with a three from up top. Jesse Edwards was able to avoid foul trouble this time — a tip-slam and a rim run gave him a pair of dunks to go with a layup on his way to six first half points. Swider, who did a good job on the defensive glass, connected on a three and Syracuse jumped out to a 38-28 lead at the under four minute media timeout. Swider then found himself wide open at the top of the key and buried his second triple of the night to create some separation.
Arizona State missed its final eight 3-point attempts of the half and Syracuse went into the break leading 48-30. The Orange shot 17-32 (53.1%) in the first twenty minutes behind Buddy’s 17 points.
Both offenses were clicking after the intermission as Arizona State made three outside shots in the first four minutes to cut Syracuse’s lead to 14. Still, its defense gave little resistance as Girard hit a triple and finished with a craft righty reverse layup, Edwards scored with deep post position and Buddy hit another mid-range jumper. Syracuse led 65-49 with 13:36 to go.
Arizona State went to the full court press to some avail, forcing Syracuse to turn the ball over and struggle to get the ball into the half court. On one occasion though, Syracuse was able to take advantage, getting Edwards the ball for a thunderous dunk which gave him a career-high.
Career-high 13 for Edwards including this .— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) November 26, 2021
He's also got six boards and a pair of blocks. pic.twitter.com/cExgXJqz7B
Arizona State stayed with its pressure the rest of the way. The press forced some turnovers as the Sun Devils slowly chipped into Syracuse’s lead as Luther Muhammad made late threes. Bobby Hurley elected to start fouling with over three minutes left.
Late in the half, clinging to an 84-77 lead, Buddy missed a runner and Edwards rebounded the miss and was fouled. As he went to the line, Syracuse fans chanted both ‘M-V-P’ as well as his name. Edwards made the free throw to boost Syracuse’s lead back to ten.
Still, ASU wouldn’t go quietly as Jay Heath made a triple to make 88-81 with over a minute left. After eventually getting the ball into the half court, Swider answered with a three point play that seemed to put the game out of reach. The press break needs some work, but Syracuse was able to hold off Arizona State late to move to 1-1 in the event and 3-2 on the season.
Syracuse will advance to play Auburn in the fifth place game on Friday at 4:30. That game will air on ESPN2/ESPNU.