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Syracuse men’s basketball: Three takeaways from the Orange’s 79-65 win over Boston College

The Orange cap off 2022 with a solid win in the Dome.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (9-5, 2-1) concluded 2022 on a winning note after defeating Boston College (7-7, 1-2) 79-65 Saturday afternoon at the JMA Wireless Dome. The Eagles fought hard throughout the game, but the Orange put the contest away for good with a strong performance in the second half capped off by Syracuse’s offense (finally) coming back to life.

Here are some takeaways from Syracuse’s double-digit point victory over Boston College as we head into the new year.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

(Another) slow start

Similar to recent games, the Orange started off rusty out of the gate, shooting just 4/14 from the field with three turnovers after the first nine minutes against the Eagles. Defensively, Syracuse allowed too much penetration inside, leading to Boston College fighting strong on the glass and giving the Eagles some easy looks inside. For context, the Eagles finished with as many first-half points in the paint (16 points) as the Orange did despite BC’s lack of size on its roster.

Fortunately, Joe Girard kept Syracuse afloat with 13 points on 5/11 shooting, including 3/6 from three. He started to force looks towards the end of the first half (and for most of the game overall), but his offense was just enough to keep the Orange close enough to propel the team to its then-largest lead of the day by halftime.

Boston College’s lack of outside shooting means that it couldn’t take advantage of Syracuse’s sloppy play and poor defensive showing to start the game. However, this won’t necessarily be the case against the electric offenses of other ACC programs, such as Miami, Duke, and company. The Orange can’t get into a deficit early on, especially against top-tier conference play down the road.

But...

Second half surge for the youngsters

Coach Boeheim wasn’t shy about swapping players in and out of the lineup early to find the right on-court combination. In fact, 11 different Syracuse players saw the court in the game’s first 11 minutes.

It took a while, but once the game finally settled down for some of the younger guys, the Orange build enough momentum in the second half thanks to a lineup featuring Girard, Judah Mintz, Benny Williams, Justin Taylor, and Mournir Hima.

Together, the five-man unit gave the Orange enough firepower on offense without sacrificing too much on the defensive end.

Williams was the star of the second-half show, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals/blocks in an all-around effort. After a horrendous start to the game, Williams looked aggressive on the offensive end, getting his own shot up in isolation with ease while staying intense defensively in the paint. Looking away from the stat sheet, he was telling his teammates where to stand on the court and giving advice to some of the freshmen, which is always an added bonus.

That energy tricked down to some of the other shining stars from today’s game. Justin Taylor’s outside shooting put the Orange back ahead over the Eagles, while Mounir Hima’s four blocks in 15 minutes allowed Syracuse to keep its lead despite losing Edwards for almost the entire second half.

And you can’t forget about Mintz, who finally heated up with 18 points and 7 assists on 53% shooting after having a pretty quiet first half. Compared to the game’s first 20 minutes, Mintz did a much better job cutting to the rim and attacking the basket instead of forcing things in isolation or jacking up a tough jumper over multiple BC defenders.

All in all, it was another case of a tale of two halves, but you have to be impressed with how some of the Orange’s younger players performed in this one.

Breakout Benny?

We can’t overstate how well Williams played today versus the Eagles. His performance against the Eagles was easily the best of this season so far. But quietly, he’s averaged 11.4 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 51% from the field in his last five games.

All season, one of the biggest questions about the Orange was who could step up outside of Mintz, Girard, and Edwards, especially at the two forward spots. Recently, Williams has risen to the occasion. Against the ACC, which is well-known for its multi-skilled athletic threes and fours, Williams could earn some more playing time like he did today if he keeps up his effort on both ends of the court.

After struggling with consistency and questions over his energy on the court, Williams could be the key to keeping the Orange afloat as ACC play ramps up in 2023.

What did you notice from Syracuse’s win over Boston College?