Syracuse men's basketball got their fifth win in six games today beating the Boston College Eagles inside the dome Saturday afternoon 76-56.
Coming off a 59-71 loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday, Syracuse had to find a way to adapt going forward with Jesse Edward's hand injury holding him out for the rest of the season. This week, they found a way to succeed, through the strong play of Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim along with Cole Swider who scored a combined 52 points. Syracuse also got help from players off the bench like Bourama Sidibe, Symir Torrence, and even Benny Williams when necessary.
While this game got off to a back and forth start, the Orange dialed in on defense collecting 11 of their 13 steals in the first half. The Orange also forced 23 total points off of BC’s 15 turnovers. Simply said while the offense was on, Syracuse’s defense kept this game far out of reach for the Eagles to try and make a comeback.
Here are our three takeaways Syracuse’s win:
Defense looked composed and aggressive
Syracuse basketball fans know that defense has been a consistent struggle for the Orange all season. Syracuse’s defense has been a key reason why this team has not won as many games as they should have throughout this entire season. However since the turn of the new year, things looked to be coming together, and this afternoon showed immense signs of improvement.
With the news last week of Jesse Edwards being done for the remainder of the season after fracturing his non-shooting hand, Frank Anselem shifted into a starting role and his bruiser style of play has been a nice added element to Syracuse’s starting 5. After running into foul trouble early into the game, Syracuse turned to forward Bourama Sidibe, and he flourished. Sidibe and Buddy Boeheim collected 7 out of Syracuse’s 10 first-half steals. The Orange forced sloppy passes by pressing their opponent with hard closeouts and help defense. When the half was over, the Eagles were held to 28.1% from the field on 9-32 shots and 7.1% from distance on 1-14. Syracuse also forced 12 turnovers and scored 17 points off of those tunrovers.
In the second half, things got off to a rough start for the Orange defensively. While they shot a hair better than the Eagles, they were outscored 15-12 over the opening eight minutes of the half. While at many points over this season we have seen second-half starts like this for the Orange, today they adjusted and executed. The Orange finished the second half holding the Eagles to 14-34 shooting from the field and 4-14 from distance. If Syracuse can continue to play defense making the right adjustments when necessary, fans should look forward to an exciting next week of basketball.
From the jump, Syracuse was shooting the lights out of the ball. Regardless of shots early into the first half not going their way, the Orange stayed persistent eventually taking a 19 point lead towards the end of the first half, led by Buddy Boeheim’s 12 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 2-4 shooting from beyond the arc. Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim were also feeling hot shooting the ball 7-9 from the field collectively. As a team, Syracuse finished the first half shooting a strong 48.4% on 15-31 shots from the field and 40% from distance on 4-10 shooting.
To open the second shots weren't rolling the Orange's way, but Buddy Boeheim put that to rest with an emphatic contested lay-up for the bucket and foul although he missed the free throw. The Orange stayed shooting after Buddy’s lay-up scoring 40 total second-half points on 15-28 from the field and 6-13 from distance. Syracuse this season has always been a shooting heavy team but today they faced some adversity at some points over the contest. If they can continue to fight through shooting slumps effectively like they did today, this team's confidence is only going to go up heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
The bench came to play
Jim Boeheim has relied immensely on his starting 5 for the whole season. Each member of the starting five besides Jesse Edwards prior to his season-ending injury averaged at least 33 minutes per game. With Frank Anselem picking up two personal fouls early in the first half, coach Boeheim turned to his bench, and they showed up today against the Eagles. Syracuse fans saw the likes of Bourama Sidibe and Symir Torrence take the floor and make impact plays for the Orange when they needed them. Sidibe had an imposing jumping block on BC’s Andrew Kenny on a shot from distance and a steal that got the crowd going. Torrence was dishing and rebounding the ball early in the first, collecting 3 rebounds and 2 assists in his first six minutes of action. Benny Williams also saw some action in the first, scoring his first field goal since the Jan. 8th game against Wake Forest.
By the end of the first half, the entire bench compiled a 4 point, 8 rebound, 3 assist, 2 steal, and 1 block stat line across 22 minutes of action, led by Sidibe and Torrence playing 19 of the total 22 minutes. While the bench production went down in the second, Sidibe continued to shine with Anselem facing foul trouble. He added another block to the stat sheet and was an imposing defensive presence inside the paint for the Orange. John Bol Ajuik even saw the floor late in the second when Syracuse ran a lineup composed of Sidibe and Ajuik in the frontcourt. Heck, Paddy Casey even saw some action late in the second today, scoring a lay-up and drawing the foul with less than 25 seconds in the half. All in all, Syracuse got help from a bench unit that has been inconsistent all season. If the Orange can continue to get meaningful contributions from the bench like they needed today in order to win, this will only take pressure off the starting 5 to produce, creating better-oriented team basketball as a result.