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With help from the bench, Syracuse pulls away against BU

It was scary to start, but the bench allowed the Orange to pull away in a much needed win.

NCAA Basketball: Boston U at Syracuse
Tyler Lydon looked a little more comfortable in the high post against the zone.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

At first it looked like the Syracuse Orange were about to go down a dark path, but a second half run propelled the Orange to a 99-77 win over the Boston University Terriers. A slow start in the first half brought fear to the Orange themselves, but a combined 45 points off the bench for John Gillon and Taurean Thompson helped change the outcome of the contest.

At first it looked like the Syracuse Orange were about to go down a dark path, but a second half run propelled the Orange to a 99-77 win over the Boston University Terriers. A slow start in the first half brought fear to the Orange themselves, but a combined 45 points off the bench for John Gillon and Taurean Thompson helped change the outcome of the contest.

After scoring zero points in his last two games, John Gillon exploded for a much needed 23 points. He was active from the start, looking to get his three-point shot going which opened up driving lanes for himself and his teammates.

“Just coming in and being able to do that for the team is really a boost,” Gillon said on the bench’s dominating 55-point performance. The starters were off to a slow start, lacking any ability to string together some momentum, but thanks to Gillon’s energy and accuracy, the Orange were able to put away the Terriers.

Despite being outscored by Gillon by one, Taurean Thompson was the talk of the town. The freshman had a breakout performance, dominating on offense from deep and inside. He finished with 22 points, which included confident jump shots and crafty finishes around the rim.

“The jump shot was feeling good,” Thompson said on what got him going early. “I though we got off to a pretty slow start and I just wanted to impact the game as much as I can.”

After multiple terrible performances from the Orange’s bench, coach Jim Boeheim had been calling out his team’s effort and ability to come into the game and make an impact. Gillon and Thompson both have the talent to lead the bench-unit, but without effort, the Orange won’t see any success.

An interesting aspect of the game was how the Orange attacked the Terrier’s zone. Tyler Lydon had been struggling to start the season, but a few early buckets from the high post created more comfort for him and the team. Lydon would catch the ball at the free-throw line, allowing him to face the rim and create shots for himself and open threes for his teammates.

“They left it open so I was able to get some open shots and try and create other plays for other guys and find them,” Lydon said on what he saw from playing in the high post.

Lydon’s ability to shoot over smaller defenders makes his role in the middle of the zone so important. If Lydon can make one of the bottom two defenders on the zone commit to his shooting ability, then easy baskets around the rim will be had for his teammates.

The Orange finally got both their point guards to succeed in the same game, as Frank Howard led the game in assists with 11. Howard wasn’t feeling his shot from the start, but by attacking the rim and drawing double teams, he was able to impact the game in more than just a scoring ability.

“We were just running to our spots and hitting our shots,” Howard said on what caused him to find so many open shooters. “That was the biggest thing, we were hitting our shots today, so when we’re able to do that I can rack up some assists.”

The Orange have a dynamic point guard duo, but without both of them playing well it’s as if there is no need for both on the floor.

Boeheim was not pleased with his team’s defensive effort to start the game, but he was proud of his bench’s ability to “win” the game for them.

“Obviously we want guys being able to come off the bench and score, and that’s what happened today,” Boeheim said on what helped his team pull through. “John really saved the game in the first half.”

A win against Boston University doesn’t show much for the Orange, but seeing the bench succeed for the first time in a while made Boeheim and Syracuse fans excited for what could happen.

The Orange return on Saturday as they renew their rivalry against Georgetown, a game everyone has been anticipating. There aren’t many players who have experienced a Georgetown verses Syracuse game on this roster, but Gillon is excited to create their own Syracuse history on Saturday.

“I’m really excited; Georgetown is one of the great historic basketball schools, I never got the chance to play them before so I’m really looking forward to playing them in a great environment.”