Syracuse outlasted Northeastern on Wednesday afternoon, coming out on top 62-56. It was by no means a pretty win, but Syracuse improved to 5-1 on the year.
“In Division 1 basketball, a win is a win,” Orange guard Joe Girard III said. “At the same time we have to get better, but we feel a lot better than if we walked out of here with a loss.”
In this ill-favored win for Syracuse, here are our key takeaways:
Living and dying by the 3 can sometimes be ugly
Syracuse was coming off one of its best games of the season, hitting 16 of 31 from beyond the arc in a rare ACC rout of Boston College. But SU shot 2-18 just from 3 against Northeastern, and seemed lost when they could not get it going from deep.
In particular, two of SU’s top guns from the win over the Eagles were noticably cold against the Huskies. Alan Griffin was 6-9 from distance for a team-high 22 points, while Buddy Boeheim was 3-8 from downtown for 17 points. The two shot a combined 1-16 on Wednesday for 2 points as Griffin, SU’s leading scorer, was held scoreless for the first time this year.
“Alan cannot let his offensive struggles dictate his defense,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We simply lost when he was on the court today.”
And here lies the problem of relying too much on the 3. Inconsistency from beyond the arc can make games that should be an easy win (SU was favored by 18.5 points) way too close.
“The Boston College game is dangerous because it means nothing,” Boeheim said. “We might as well forget about that game.”
Quincy Guerrier provides for Syracuse when needed most
From the season opening nail biter against Bryant to Wednesday’s win against Northeastern, sophomore forward Quincy Guerrier has been remarkably consistent.
He’s averaging 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds, and the Orange needed every bit of his 18 points and 16 rebounds in 39 minutes against the Huskies.
Guerrier has been particularly important on the glass with Bourama Sidibe out until at least early 2021 with a torn meniscus.
His presence was especially key on offense, with seven offensive rebounds on a day when SU shot 31.8 percent from the field as a team.
“It was good for us to figure out a way to win other than shooting the ball,” Girard said.
That actually doesn’t apply to Guerrier, who has shot 67.3 percent from the field this season and 6-10 against Northeastern. Though he didn’t attempt a 3-pointer against the Huskies, he’s shooting 45.5 percent from downtown, up from 12.5 percent his freshman year.
“I know my role,” Guerrier said. “I have to be aggressive, help my teammates, and be a monster down there.”
Kadary Richmond continues to have an impact
Though Griffin and Buddy Boeheim struggled through their worst games of the season, that opened up yet another opportunity for freshman guard Kadary Richmond and he took advantage.
Richmond’s wingspan of 6’9″ offers a clear defensive advantage at the top of the zone, and his vision leads to easy opportunities on offense.
Boeheim leaned heavily on Richmond down the stretch, as he played 14 minutes in the second half. With Griffin playing only 24 minutes and Buddy Boeheim shifting to small forward at certain points, Richmond steadied the offense, finishing with five points and an assist and steal.
His 18 minutes were by far the biggest contribution from the bench. The only other bench player to appear was Woody Newton (7 minutes).
“He does a lot of the things we need,” Girard said. “He’s really active on defense and has helped us take breathers. We are really confident in what he can do for this team.”