By the transitive property, Syracuse now gets the power of winning the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Syracuse Orange shot the roof off the Carrier Dome on Saturday night against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, winning 94-72. The Orange went 36-63 (57%) from the floor and 10-19 (53%) from three to earn one of the team’s most convincing and important wins of the season.
Here’s our three takeaways from a lovely Syracuse win:
Buddy brings down the house!— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 30, 2022
Give him an inch, he’ll take a mile
If you’re new to the Syracuse basketball experience, you’d probably get tired of broadcasters constantly saying, “You can’t give Buddy Boeheim any space.”
Today was a prime example of that point.
Boeheim starting finding small gaps in the Wake Forest defense to fire off open shots, even by the smallest of gaps. First it was off transition opportunities, getting to his favorite spot at the elbow before the Demon Deacons defenders could get to him. Then Boeheim started losing defenders with off-ball movement, getting small but effective shooting gaps to let a ball rip through the air.
All of a sudden the net rippled for Boeheim and that’s all he needed to have confidence the rest of the game. Buddy used the threat of his three-point shot to isolate up on smaller defenders, back them down and hit shots on drives inside the arc. 30 points on 12-21 shooting, 6-11 from three, is the Boeheim that so many people fell in love (or hated) during the NCAA tournament last season, and that form returned against Wake Forest.
Cole Swider with zero regard for human life— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 30, 2022
Perhaps one of the most overlooked part of the game was the relatively long run of minutes that the Syracuse bench got during the first half. The substitutions gave the Syracuse starters ample time to rest but also reset mentally, as the Orange struggled to get stops to begin the game.
Once the second half came around, the Syracuse starters looked much more energized and played with an extra pep in their step. That led to a large majority of the 11 Wake Forest turnovers in the second half compared to two turnovers for the Orange. Syracuse responded with 19 points off those turnovers, a large portion of those going to Buddy at the beginning of the second half to get him going.
We’ve seen Syracuse a tad slow starting the second half which has led to many first-half leads evaporating earlier this season. However, this Orange team in the second half looked locked in defensively which led to the offensive explosion. The subs in the first half played a big factor in that mentality reset to kickstart the Syracuse system for the final 20 minutes.
Respect my authority
Jesse Edwards fouled out of the first game against Wake Forest this season with nine minutes left in the second half. That left Frank Anselem all alone to defend against the Wake Forest offense, and that interior attack for the Demon Deacons played a big role in why Syracuse lost the first meeting between these teams. This time, Edwards didn’t foul out and even played the majority of the second half with three fouls. He kept his composure and discouraged the Demon Deacons from looking for frequent opportunities inside. That was a big reason Alondes Williams, the ACC’s leading scorer with 20.4 points per game, was held to his first single-digit points game of the season with eight against the Orange.
That said, you can’t ignore what Anselem did as well during the game, but that was mainly felt on the offensive end. Wake Forest paid a lot of respect for Syracuse’s potential inside scoring. As a result, Demon Deacons defenders slid off Anselem to double threats at the low post, whether it be a forward at the block or a guard driving through the lane.
That left Anselem open multiple times, and he responded with strong finishes at the rim. The backup center hasn’t always showed that aggressiveness this season. Forcing teams to respect his presence at the post could free up more opportunities for Syracuse’s primary scorer.