A quick take on Syracuse’s 82-70 win over North Florida Saturday evening in front of a smaller-than-normal, but hearty Dome crowd:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse had just enough offense to hold off sharp-shooting North Florida of the Atlantic Sun Conference in a very entertaining game that the Orange didn’t begin to control until about 9:00 to play in the second half. In a back-and-forth game game much of the way, the ‘Cuse led by three at halftime, and extended its lead using an 11-0 run with just over 6:00 to play. Despite staying within striking distance by virtue of its three-point shooting, North Florida failed to stop the Orange down the stretch, were forced to foul, and SU hit enough of its late free throws for the final 12-point margin over the Ospreys. Five Syracuse players scored in double figures, the first time that has happened since 2016.
ANALYSIS: Call Syracuse (7-5) the winner of the “Battle Beyond the Arc.” SU knew North Florida (7-7) was going to hoist up three-point shots, they came into the game national leaders in made treys, but even an aggressive zone defense couldn’t contain the Ospreys until late in the second half. North Florida took advantage of second-chance opportunities on the boards to stay within range, but late baskets by Elijah Hughes (18-points, 4-assists) and Quincy Guerrier’s (10-points, 7-rebounds) clutch play off the bench filling in for a foul-plagued Marek Dolezaj helped seal matters. SU itself finished 10-of-26 from three point range with the starting backcourt of Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard each hitting four baskets from long range.
HERO: He’s the fourth scorer Syracuse is going to need to keep defenses honest and open up some inside scoring. Junior big man Dolezaj had 17-points, 8-assists, 5-boards, 3-steals, and was 7-for-7 from the foul line alternating at the four and five spots. The only negative, his over-aggressiveness on defense caused him to foul out with 5:36 to play.
ZERO: It’s the direction the sport is going, shooting three-point shots, but the Ospreys are too top heavy. 46 of UNF’s 55 field goal attempts were from beyond the 22-foot, one and 3/4 inch arc painted on the court, a Dome record. 83% of its shots. 51 of its 70-points. Crazy.
WHAT’S NEXT: After a couple of days off for the Christmas break and a return to practice later in the week, Syracuse plays its final non-ACC game of the season against Niagara at the Dome Sat., Dec. 28. The Purple Eagles (2-8), coached by ex-Orange quarterback and Duke guard Greg Paulus, have played only two home games this season but one was a Dec. 8 upset win over Colgate in overtime. Niagara is also off until traveling down the Thruway to meet the ‘Cuse. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ACCNX.