Boeheim’s Army survived another scare in The Basketball Tournament. The group of Syracuse Orange men’s basketball alumni advanced to the Super 16, taking down Team Heartfire by a final score of 68-62. The Army will play again on Wednesday night against the winner of Always a Brave/Jackson TN Underdawgs.
Head coach Jeremy Pope went with a starting lineup of DJ Kennedy, Deandre Kane, Tyrese Rice, Malachi Richardson and Chris McCullough. Tyler Lydon came off the bench after starting in the team’s opening round win. Eric Devendorf, Keifer Sykes, Andrew White and C.J. Fair completed the 10-man rotation.
Boeheim’s Army jumped out to a quick lead thanks to a Kennedy score inside and a McCullough deep ball. The team came out in man-to-man defense in favor of zone and stayed matched up throughout.
Both teams exchanged leads throughout the early going until Pope deployed his reserves. From there, the intensity picked up and the defense locked in.
Former Wisconsin Green-Bay star Sykes was able to find offensive rhythm off the bench. He connected on his first attempt from outside and helped the Army to an 18-14 edge at the end of the first. Sykes carried his offensive momentum into the second quarter and scored eight quick points.
Fair established himself from there, getting on the glass and scoring inside. He connected on a corner 3-pointer to give the Army a 26-16 lead. The defense was the story in the first half as the Syracuse guys played a tough man-to-man defense in the first eighteen minutes.
Toward the end of the half, Rice scored two straight buckets and Boeheim’s Army went into the break leading by a dozen.
Boeheim’s Army was in complete control in the first half— TBT (@thetournament) July 26, 2021
This team is so stacked it’s not even funny pic.twitter.com/C1rc6N6caD
The defensive energy of the first half started to wane for Boeheim’s Army in the third quarter. Team Heartfire began to chip into the lead as Aaron Epps and former Clemson guard Tevin Mack found and made open shots. On the other side of the ball, the scoring dried up for Boeheim’s Army. Heartfire utilized an 18-3 run, fueled by Epps and Mack, to take a 44-41 lead at the 3:27 mark in the third. Devendorf helped stabilize momentum after the run on a layup and a pair of free throws and Boeheim’s Army regained the lead heading into the fourth.
Both teams fought back and forth throughout the fourth as neither team was able to take control of the game. With a one point lead under four minutes remaining, Boeheim’s Army called timeout and the target score was set at 67 for the Elam Ending.
Heartfire struck first on triple to regain the lead, but Tyrese Rice connected a triple to take a 62-61 edge. Heartfire then turned it over on the ensuing possession and Kennedy followed a Rice miss to make it 64-61. McCullough then scored on a transition dunk on the next offensive possession to make it 66-61. After an exchange of possessions late, McCullough knocked down a mid-range two to give Boeheim’s Army the win.
That’ll do it. Boeheim’s Army advances as Chris McCullough knocks down a pull up two with the Elam Ending in effect. pic.twitter.com/8ZvTGWpVBo— James Szuba (@JamesSzuba) July 27, 2021
Boeheim’s Army now advances to play the winner of Always a Brave/Jackson TN Underdawgs. That game tips Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN2.
Sykes led BA in scoring with 17 points on 5-9 shooting. Kennedy finished in double-figures with 10 points to go along with eight rebounds. Kane had six points, seven rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. Devendorf scored six points and grabbed six boards.
Boeheim’s Army shot 22-50 from the floor and 8-20 from three. Team Hearfire shot 23-60 from the floor and 8-26 from deep. The Army won the rebounding battle 35-50.