A quick take on Syracuse’s 107-96 win over Buffalo in overtime on Saturday evening at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 89-88 with 4 minutes to go in overtime, Buddy Boeheim stopped a potential Buffalo fast break with a steal and found Quincy Guerrier for a dunk to give the Orange a 91-88 lead. An offensive rebound and putback by Alan Griffin 30 seconds later put the Orange in control at 93-88, and Syracuse picked up their sixth win of the season despite being down by as many as 16 in the second half. Buffalo nearly won it in regulation after Marek Dolezaj was stripped with six seconds left and Jayvon Graves had an open path to a layup. But Griffin thunderously blocked the potential-game winning shot to send the contest to the extra frame.
ANALYSIS: Jim Boeheim appears to have settled on his best lineup when the Orange need to rally. With Joe Girard III continuing to struggle, shooting 1-6 in 16 minutes of play, Boeheim turned to freshman Kadary Richmond, who played most of the second half and all of overtime. Richmond provided a steady hand on offense and ball-hawking defense, finishing with 13 points, five assists, three blocks and a steal in 31 minutes. It was no coincidence that Syracuse trailed 59-43 with 16:14 to go with Richmond on the bench, and the Orange stormed back to take a 3-point lead in regulation with Richmond on the floor. While Boeheim will certainly still continue to play Girard, Richmond is in line to play extended minutes when Girard isn’t shooting the ball well.
HERO: Griffin exploded in the second half and overtime, and his block as regulation ended was most definitely the play of the game. He finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. Guerrier continues to show his growth into a top-line ACC player, finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Dolezaj (19) and Buddy Boeheim (19) also chipped in. Rochester native Jeenathan Williams scored 19 points for the Bulls.
ZERO: The Orange showed plenty of flaws in the first half, with porous defense inside and out and a lethargic offense. Josh Mballa was nonplussed by the 2-3 zone, scoring 27 points before fouling out late in overtime. Buffalo also got plenty of good looks from downtown, hitting 9 of 21, shooting 50.7 percent overall for the game. The Orange certainly missed Bourama Sidibe’s interior presence, with the Orange -4 on the boards in the first half. On offense, Syracuse settled for outside shots early, and finished shooting a combined 3-19 from distance. SU has several players known for their shooting (Girard, Boeheim, Griffin), but it was Gurrier who hit two of the Orange’s three 3s.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Notre Dame on Tuesday at 7 p.m. TV: ACC Network.