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Three takeaways from Syracuse’s 78-62 First Round NCAA Tournament win over San Diego State

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Syracuse won its First Round NCAA Tournament game against San Diego State to move to 8-2 all-time as a double-digit seed.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Syracuse at San Diego State Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team handled the San Diego State Aztecs by a final score of 78-62 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Orange advance to play the No. 3 seed West Virginia in the Round of 32.

Inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, Buddy Boeheim came out hot, carrying the offense by scoring 16 of Syracuse’s first 19 points. He picked up his second foul and sat toward the end of the half before making a brief appearance just prior to the intermission. He didn’t cool off in the second half, either.

The 2-3 zone tightened up in the game and limited the Aztecs from outside. Without delving too far into the details, we turn to the takeaways...

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Syracuse at San Diego State Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Avoiding consecutive First Round losses

Syracuse had lost consecutive games in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament only once under Jim Boeheim. That was back in 2005 and 2006, when Syracuse lost to Vermont and Texas A&M in the First Round, respectively.

Of course, there was no 2020 NCAA Tournament and the Orange dropped its 2019 opener in March Madness to Baylor. The win over San Diego State keeps that at bay.

Jim Boeheim is now 29-6 all-time in the First Round of NCAA tournament games.

Zone effect

The Syracuse 2-3 zone hasn’t exactly been up to standard this season, ranking 93rd in KenPom defensive efficiency coming into the night. But Boeheim has a penchant for shutting down teams with his 2-3 zone in March. That was true again on Friday night.

San Diego State hadn’t seen a 2-3 zone all season. The only zone the Aztecs saw was Air Force’s 3-2. Said Jim Boeheim, “Tonight it was better than it’s been. You don’t see a zone all year, it’s a little more difficult.”

Syracuse was up to its old tricks, limiting the Aztecs to 7-31 shooting overall and 3-20 shooting from outside in the first half. They finished the game shooting 24-67 (35.8%) from the floor and 11-40 (27.5%) from three.

You can expect to hear all about the zone going forward.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Syracuse at San Diego State Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Buddy Boeheim’s hot shooting continues

Buddy Boeheim struggled with his shooting in the beginning of the season. During the team’s second pause following the Buffalo game in December, Boeheim tested positive for Covid-19 and it took him a while to get his legs back.

But as the calendar turned to the month of February, he turned it around. Boeheim has continued his torrid shooting throughout March and into tournament play. Inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, Boeheim shot 11-15 from the floor and 7-10 from 3-point land and finished with 30 points. Over the last 12 games Boeheim has shot 48/99 from deep (48.5%).

In the post-game press conference he emphasized that playing at Syracuse and playing for his dad means everything to him. His says the pressure to perform is gone, that loves putting on the Syracuse jersey and loves playing for what he deems are the best fans in the country.

He also expressed gratitude for his dad and said something that sure to tug on the heart-strings:

“He believed in me before I believed in myself,” Buddy said.