Saturday afternoon, Syracuse simply dominated Bucknell in NIT Season Tip-Off play, leading by as many as 53 points in a 97-46 romp at the Carrier Dome. The Orange (4-1) grabbed the lead in the first minute and never slowed down as eight players scored at least six points in the game.
SU’s defense made things miserable for the Bison (2-4), permitting their guests to make just over 26 percent of their shots from the field, including only 3-of-24 attempts from three-point range. Bucknell also turned the ball over 23 times, leading to 37 Syracuse points.
Off turnovers was not the only way the Orange scored, either, as they shot over 56 percent from the floor and 48 percent from beyond the arc. SU made a season-high 14 three-pointers as both Buddy Boeheim and Elijah Hughes sizzled from deep. The two combined for 11 triples on the day.
Syracuse jumped out to a 10-3 lead as Elijah Hughes dominated the opening minutes. The redshirt junior forward hit a pair of three-pointers, dropped in another a jumper, and set up Bourama Sidibe’s dunk.
Less than four minutes later, Hughes’ third triple of the game closed a run of ten straight Orange points that had them on top, 22-7, with less than seven minutes off the clock. Hughes added another three just over three minutes later to finish a stretch of seven SU points that made it a 31-12 game before the midpoint of the opening half.
With less than four minutes to go in the opening session, Syracuse all but ended the game with an 11-1 run. Joe Girard III scored twice, including a three-point shot, then Buddy Boeheim added a three of his own. Bourama Sidibe matched a Bucknell free throw, then Jesse Edwards finished the streak with a dunk to put the Bison in a 51-22 hole. The guests scored twice before halftime to get within 25 points.
Early in the second half, SU needed just over two-and-a-half minutes to rip off a dozen uninterrupted points. Girard scored inside, followed by a Marek Dolezaj jumper and a pair of Boeheim triples. Dolezaj finished the streak with a pair of foul shots to stretch the Syracuse lead to 65-28.
Just over a minute later, the Orange went off, piling up an 18-2 run that featured the first Bison field goal of the second half coming seven minutes out of the intermission. Boeheim started the burst with a pair of threes and Hughes followed with a dunk and a triple.
After the Bucknell basket, Brycen Goodine, Howard Washington (three-pointer), and Jesse Edwards each scored to expand the SU lead to 83-33 with under nine minutes to play. The Syracuse reserves would later add on another 10-0 run, stretching the margin to 53 points with just over a minute to go.
SU’s Buddy Boeheim topped all scorers in the game with 22 points, hitting 8-of-12 field goals and a blistering 6-of-8 on three-pointers. Elijah Hughes hit five treys as he dropped in 21 points, including 16 in the first ten minutes of the game.
It was not just a two-man show for the Orange, though, as Joe Girard III had 12 points and a game-high six assists and Jesse Edwards had ten points off the bench. Bourama Sidibe and Quincy Guerrier both did work inside, as Sidibe had nine points and nine rebounds while Guerrier finished with eight and eight.
Bruce Moore was the lone Bucknell player to reach double figures, pacing the Bison with 17 points. Jimmy Soto backed him with seven points.
The NIT Season Tip-Off now brings the Orange to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where the level of competition takes a big step up. SU will face an undefeated Oklahoma State team on Wednesday night (7:00pm Eastern, ESPN2).
In their most recent game, the Cowboys (5-0) defeated Western Michigan on Friday night, 70-63. The ‘Pokes have a balanced offense, as five different players average at least 8.2 points per game, paced by guard Lindy Waters III at 13 points per contest. Isaac Likekele backs him with 12.2 points per outing and Yor Anei posts 11.4 points and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game.