A quick take on Syracuse’s 74-62 win over Oakland on a snowy Wednesday evening in Syracuse:
WHAT HAPPENED: The pesky Golden Grizzlies stayed within contact of Syracuse throughout the whole evening, at one point pulling to within 63-58 with 6:36 to go after a Blake Lampman 3-pointer. But that is as close as Oakland would get to the upset. Joseph Girard III, playing the most balanced game of his young career, responded on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer and added a pair of free throws a minute later. Bourama Sidibe’s putback of his own miss with 3:21 to go gave the Orange a 70-60 lead, and Syracuse would wind down the clock from there.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse struggled to stop Oakland on the interior, surrendering a 30-20 advantage on points in the paint as the Grizzlies shot 15-25 from 2-point range. Oakland center Brad Brechting, who stands at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds muscled his way to a 20-point, 6-rebound performance, while going a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. Syracuse big men Quincy Guerrier and Sidibe both ended up with four fouls each while attempting to contain him. That has been a familiar bugaboo this season, and the daunting physicality of the ACC is only two weeks away.
HERO: Offensively, Syracuse’s ‘Big 3’ of Elijah Hughes (20 points), Girard (20 points, 7 assists, 1 turnover) and Buddy Boeheim (14 points) was enough to carry the Orange. Anyone not named them combined for 17 points, showing that the Orange will need to find more sources of offense if they want to be competitive at the turn of the New Year. That said, Boeheim took 13 shots to get his 14 points, as he hit only 3-11 from distance.
ZERO: Syracuse took advantage of a team that came in shooting only 28.6 percent from downtown. True to form, Oakland shot just 4-17 from beyond the arc, with Lampman connecting on only one of his six shots from 3.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse continues with the soft part of its non-conference schedule, hosting North Florida on Saturday at 6 p.m. TV: ACC Network.