The Syracuse Orange took one step towards playing themselves into the NCAA tournament picture with a crucial third victory over the NC State Wolfpack this season. While Syracuse doesn’t get themselves directly to Indianapolis with the win, the Orange have keep themselves on the bubble and in prime position to move into the tournament should other results fall their way.
Here’s three takeaways from the win:
Flaming Hot Boeheim
Syracuse took a 43-38 lead into halftime pretty much solely due to the offensive performance of Buddy Boeheim. NC State tried a soft press against the Orange to make the SU ball-handlers uncomfortable. That left Boeheim wide open for some easy threes in unsettled situations. He took the momentum from those threes and turned it into offensive confidence by making tough deep shots and by converting dribble-drives in the paint. Boeheim scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the first half on 8-of-11 shooting and 4-of-7 three-point shooting. No other Syracuse player scored more than five points in the first half.
Scorching Second Half
Given the first half stat-line, you’d expect NC State to put a lot of focus on shutting down Boeheim. He only had seven points on 2-of-5 shooting, all from three. That meant that Syracuse needed to support him in the second half, and they did just that. Four other players scored at least seven points, with Robert Braswell leading the second half scorers with 11. Alan Griffin and Joe Girard weren’t far behind with nine points each. Syracuse was red hot in the second half, shooting 55.2% from the floor and an outstanding 53.3% from three. The supporting cast did their job to stretch Syracuse’s advantage and make the win seem as comfortable as it did.
The Big Guy
Jim Boeheim made an important change that allowed Syracuse to stay in front of NC State with only Buddy Boeheim scoring. The Orange head coach brought out Marek Dolezaj and subbed in Jesse Edwards with 14:02 left in the first half. All of a sudden the Wolfpack weren’t as comfortable in the paint with Edwards patrolling the rim. He had six rebounds in the first half, the most for either team during that time frame. NC State couldn’t finish around him either as Syracuse outscored the Wolfpack 18-10 in the paint in the first half. Edwards continues to show great improvement as the year winds down, and he continues to make a strong case to play more minutes on the court.