A quick take on Syracuse’s 89-67 win over Seattle on Saturday evening at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse played the best offensive game of its young season, wasting no time getting out to a quick lead with a new-look starting lineup. An early 7-0 run in the first three minutes of the contest, capped by a Buddy Boeheim 3-pointer, set the tone. By the time Elijah Hughes hit a jumper with 13:43 left in the first half, the Orange had surged to a 23-9 lead. The Redhawks did make it interesting in the second half, pulling to within 61-54 after Aaron Nettles converted a rare four-point play with 11:42 to go. But Joe Girard, in his first college start, responded with a nifty runner in the paint, and by the time Marek Dolezaj hit a free throw three minute later, order was restored, with the Orange back up 14.
ANALYSIS: In just the third game of the season, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim significantly tightened his rotation. Girard was moved into the starting lineup, and the Orange offense immediately responded, with Syracuse shooting 59.6 percent from the field and 9-23 from downtown. Syracuse assisted on 18 of its 28 makes, and also got to the free throw line 36 times. Boeheim elected to only play seven players, using Quincy Guerrier (17 minutes) and Brycen Goodine (13) as the only significant bench contributors. The result was a cohesive attack, with five players in double digits.
HERO: This is an easy choice. Girard, newly promoted to the starting lineup, proved that he’s likely there to stay, leading SU with 24 points, including 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Guerrier also enjoyed his best game of his young career, scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Guerrier still needs to not settle for outside shots (0-2 from 3-point land) and know that his bread-and-butter will be his inside game. Eight of his points came from free throws.
ZERO: Sophomore point guard Jalen Carey seems to be persona non grata. Following Syracuse’s win over Colgate, Boeheim announced that Girard would be promoted to the starting lineup at Carey’s expense, but most figured Carey would get at least some minutes to work out his issues against Seattle. That turned out not to be the case, with Carey not playing a single minute, even with the game well out of hand.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will play Cornell in Boeheim Bowl III on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. In case you’ve forgotten, Boeheim’s elder son, Jimmy, plays for the Big Red.