Syracuse held off a feisty Oakland Golden Grizzlies team at the Carrier Dome on Wednesday, moving a game back above .500 with a 74-62 win. Here’s three things we learned from Wednesday’s win.
BOEHEIM NOT HAPPY WITH THE FANS
Midway through the second half, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim did something he rarely does. He turned his back to the court and toward the crowd, and began to raise his arms, imploring the lackadaisical fans to become more exuberant.
Though the crowd was announced at 16,394, the actual amount seemed to be far less that that.
For one, there was a snow squall in Syracuse that evening, with heavy snow and strong gusts that kept even the most ardent of fans away. The students are also home for winter break, and the game started at 8 p.m., an hour later than normal.
“I had to cheer to try to get somebody to make some noise. It’s sad, sickening really, to see that we can’t get some help here,” Boeheim said. “We have to have some help there. That’s the whole purpose of playing at home and I’m a little too old to try to be a cheerleader here.”
After an uproar on social media in response to his comments, Boeheim attempted to clarify his statements on Thursday.
I have said many times that we have the best college basketball fans in the country and I still feel that way. My comments last night were about the atmosphere during parts of the game—not about our fans. Our team responds to their support, and did again against Oakland.
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) December 19, 2019
LIVE AND DIE BY THE 3
As has been the case all season, Syracuse relied heavily on the 3 against Oakland.
The Orange is averaging around 26 attempts from beyond the arc per game, and the Orange took 22 of those shots—in the first half. SU would attempt eight more in the second half, finishing the evening 11-34 from downtown.
When Syracuse is shooting well, that leads to offensive outbursts like the 97 points they scored against Bucknell and also against Georgia Tech. But the Orange was merely pedestrian against the Golden Grizzlies, with Joe Girard III going 3-for-1o Buddy Boeheim 3-for-11 from 3.
Elijah Hughes, however, shot 5-10 from downtown, for a game-high 23 points.
“We’re going to have games where we don’t make some shots that I think we can,” Boeheim said. “But we made enough tonight.”
SYRACUSE STRUGGLES TO DEFEND INSIDE AGAIN
There are definite concerns in Syracuse’s zone defense, more specifically, their interior. The Orange struggled to contain Golden Grizzlies big men Xavier Hill-Mais (6’7″) and Brad Brechting (6’11”).
“Our interior defense has got to be better,” Boeheim said. “Those two big guys, they got are real big, real strong, they made a great effort to get the ball inside to those guys.”
Boeheim continued it wasn’t necessarily rebounding position that caused the struggles but sheer size difference between the two teams. That will not get easier with the beginning of ACC play two weeks away.
“We are covering better but it’s not good enough,” Boeheim said. “We’re always going to have troubles with those [bigger] guys. We have to find a way to keep our turnovers down and hit more threes.”
HUGHES CONTINUES TO CARRY HIS TEAM
While Buddy Boeheim (14 points) and Girard (20) were both supporting characters in the win on Wednesday, it was Hughes who shined again.
Hughes finished 9-18 shooting for a game-high 23 points.
He continues to be a consistent piece in this offense and seems to be able to come away with points by any means necessary, whether it be from the 3-point line (5-10) or driving and attacking the rim.
Becoming a the dual threat that Hughes has been this season has caused opponents to have to prepare for both his long range shot and his presence driving to the rim where he had two monstrous dunks on the night. But there was a small criticism: He didn’t attempt a single free throw.
“Elijah is playing well,” Boeheim said. “We have to find a way for him and Buddy to try and get to the foul line a little bit more. We’re settling and we need to get to the foul line a little more.”