Syracuse’s 69-49 victory over No. 18 Louisville on Wednesday night gave them another signature win to further bolster its NCAA resume. Here are three things we learned from the game:
1. Elijah Hughes busts out of his slump
Since Hughes scored 22 points on 6 of 9 shooting from downtown in a win over Miami on Jan. 24, he has been mired in a shooting funk. In the six games between, he’s shot a combined 10 for 39 (25.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
But Hughes finally found his shooting stroke on Wednesday, leading the Orange with 18 points while shooting 4 of 10 from downtown.
“He was so good in practice, he shot the ball well,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He hit three in a row in the second half, [which] broke it open.”
He started off slow in the first half, missing the first five of his 3-point attempts. He was not alone, as SU as a team struggled with 3s in the first, making just 5 of 17.
But Hughes hit three straight 3-pointers in the second half, which proved to be contagious. The Orange combined for 6 for 13 shooting from distance after intermission.
“Elijah was the difference,” Boeheim said. “In the first half he made one out of four or five and in the second half he made three straight and that was the difference.”
2. Doing all of the little things
Officially, Marek Dolezaj’s stat line from Wednesday shows six points, nine rebounds and an assist in 23 minutes. But his work went far beyond the box score.
Dolezaj repeatedly sacrificed his body, diving to the floor for loose balls, getting tangled for held balls, and drawing charges. In the vein of Mike Hopkins, Kristof Ongenaet, and all the other scrappy SU players that preceded him, Dolezaj proved again why he’s such a key part of SU’s success.
“The stats don’t really tell the story of the things that he does out there,” Boeheim said. “Defensively he was good. He gets his hands on the ball. He makes passes that sometimes lead to other passes for buckets and he was very good out there today.”
3. Resume opportunities ahead
Syracuse inched closer to the 10 win mark in the ACC, which, this season, is considered a bellwether for entry into the NCAA Tournament. While SU’s chances took a hit in a disastrous loss to NC State last week, the win over Louisville, currently No. 16 in the NET rankings gives SU another Quad 1 win.
The Orange resume looks like this now:
Quad 1: 3-4
Quad 2: 4-2
Quad 3: 7-2
Quad 4: 4-0
One of those Quad 3 games, a win over Georgetown in non-conference play may bump up to a Quad 2 game after the Hoyas upset No. 17 Villanova, 85-73, on Wednesday night.
And Syracuse will have plenty of opportunities to further improve its resume, with four of their last five games ranked as Quad 1 games.
“Every game’s important,” Boeheim said. “Every game you play in this league is important”
That road begins when Syracuse hosts top ranked Duke on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.