SU quietly beat Bucknell by 51 points Saturday afternoon. Let that sink in.
It didn’t take long for the Orange to take it to the Bison, on both ends of the court, and play what their coach said was the most complete game of the young season.
Here are four takeaways from Syracuse’s 97-46 win:
BOEHEIM, HUGHES DOMINATE
Considering Bucknell was one game shy of going to three straight NCAA Tournaments last year as the Patriot League representative and considering SU found itself in a nip-and-tuck game three days earlier with Cornell, the game was expected to be tight.
“We are not that good and they are not that bad,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim admitted afterwards. “They are a really good team and at the end of the year they’ll be right there.”
Because of the noon tipoff at the Dome and the Thanksgiving break, more seats were empty than usual.
Also, missing was the energy generated by the Sour Citrus Society, cheerleaders and dance squad.
So Elijah Hughes, Buddy Boeheim and the Orange then set the tone by jumping out to an early lead and never looking back.
Hughes, who continues to round out his game, had eight points in the game’s first four minutes. He also made his own highlight reel with a thunderous tomahawk jam in the second half and finished with six rebounds and five assists.
Buddy Boeheim was much sharper on this day than his previous outing by scoring a career-high 22 points, including 6-of-8 from long range.
DEFENSE STYMIES BISON
Just as effective was a stifling perimeter defense that never allowed the Bison to get untracked. For the game, Bucknell was held to a season-low 26.3 percent, including 3-of-24 from beyond the arc. SU forced 23 Bucknell turnovers that resulted in 37 SU points.
It also allowed Syracuse to get out in transition, where they scored 28 points.
“We were very active on defense,” Boeheim noted as the biggest key of the game. “We really didn’t give them very good looks.”
GIRARD SETTLING INTO STARTING ROLE
Joe Girard III, the NYS all-time leading scorer from Glens Falls, is quickly growing into his new point guard role and was praised by his coach for running the offense effectively.
“Joe did a very good job at the point,” Boeheim said. “He has been very solid and knows how to play.”
Girard, who admitted he’s living a dream playing for the Orange, believes his team can continue the momentum when it heads to New York City this week.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to come to Syracuse and win games.”
The Orange will lean on Girard a little more now that Jalen Carey, who started the first two games of the season, is officially out after hand surgery.
UNDERCLASSMEN GET EXTENDED MINUTES
The blowout also gave valuable court times to freshmen Quincy Guerrier, Brycen Goodine and Jesse Edwards along with sophomore Robert Braswell. Howard Washington, the junior guard who sat out last year with a medical redshirt, also played nearly 12 minutes.
Boeheim took notice.
“They made a lot of mistakes but they are things they can learn from,” the coach said. “I think we’ll get better. We still have a long way to go,” Boeheim said. “We will need to get better.”