A quick take on Syracuse’s 97-46 win over Bucknell at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: This one was over pretty early. Forward Elijah Hughes scored eight points in the first four minutes, helping the Orange jump out to an early 10-3 lead. Hughes would play a large role in a 10-0 run later in the first half, hitting a 3-pointer with 13:09 to go to give the Orange a 22-7 lead. Another 8-0 run before half put the game into full rout mode, as a Buddy Boeheim 3-pointer with 2:51 left gave SU a 48-21 lead. It was more of the same after halftime with SU outscoring Bucknell 46-20 as the Orange won their fourth straight.
ANALYSIS: It remains to be seen if the wins will follow, but at the very least, this Syracuse team is far more fun to watch as any SU team in recent memory. Last year, Syracuse assisted on just 50 percent of its baskets, which was 223rd in the country. In 2017-18, it was even worse at 47.5 percent. The Orange is above 65 percent this season, ranking it in the top 10, showing how the ball has moved and the offense has followed. That trend continued on Saturday, with 25 assists on 37 made baskets. The Orange also shot 56.1 percent from the field and 14-29 from beyond the arc. As more evidence that SU has found its offensive fitting, Syracuse’s 51 points at intermission was the most the team had scored in the first half since it scored 53 points in 2016 against Eastern Michigan.
HERO: Boeheim notched a career-high 22 points and six 3-pointers. Hughes finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. Joe Girard III chipped in with 12 points, six assists and only one turnover.
ZERO: Syracuse dominated in transition with 28 points thanks to an unsightly 23 turnovers from the Bison. SU logged 14 steals and 13 blocks, with eight different Bucknell players with two or more turnovers.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will head down to New York for the first of two games in the NIT Tipoff at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. The Orange will face Oklahoma State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN2) and then, depending on the outcomes of the games, Ole Miss or Penn State on Friday. Wins in these games would go a long way toward helping the Orange get off the bubble come NCAA selection time.