Syracuse comes from 16 down for overtime win against Buffalo

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Dec 19, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) shoots the ball in front of Buffalo Bulls guard David Nickelberry (left) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Less than four minutes into the second half, Syracuse trailed by 16 points, but rallied to dominate the overtime session in a 107-94 home win over Buffalo. A Jayvon Graves three staked the Bulls (3-3) to a 57-41 lead shortly after intermission, but the Orange (6-1) rallied to score 66 points in just over 21 minutes of play.

That offensive punch was desperately needed, as SU’s defense was gouged throughout regulation. The Bulls shot 49.4 percent from the field, including 40.9 percent from three-point range. The zone stiffened as the game progressed, enabling the Syracuse offense to pull them back into the game.

The Orange shot 53.7 percent from the floor after halftime and connected on 23-of-30 foul shots in that time span. Overtime was very good overall to the SU offense, as they were able to score on 10-of-12 possessions in the extra five minutes.

Syracuse jumped to an early lead, but Buffalo responded with the first run of the night to jump out front. The Bulls needed under a minute to drain a trio of treys around a Quincy Guerrier lay-up to take a 15-12 lead before the first media time out.

The Orange stayed within a single possession for the next five minutes, but then the guests became flat-out rude. Buffalo blistered SU for just over four minutes, bookending a 17-4 burst with a pair of 7-0 runs. The final three in the spurt left Syracuse in a 39-25 hole with a little over five minutes remaining in the opening half, but they were able to get within 48-37 at intermission.

Things did not get much better after the break. The Orange got within nine points a couple times, but the Bulls posted another run of seven straight points. This one gave them their largest lead of the evening at 57-41 less than three-and-a-half minutes into the second half.

Just under 90 seconds later, SU started their first sustained span of strong play of the evening. The 10-2 run by Syracuse brought them within 63-56, featuring six foul shots on offense and the defense keeping Buffalo without a field goal for over three minutes.

The Bulls got back in the scoring column with a pair of baskets to go back up by a 67-56 lead, but the Orange answered with five points, including a transition dunk and short flip shot by Marek Dolezaj.

The guests held SU off for a little bit, but gave up a 7-2 run to make it a three-point game. Alan Griffin slammed home a miss to start the spurt, then Dolezaj followed a Bulls bucket by recovering a loose ball and swooping in for a lay-up. Griffin stuck a deep three from the left wing to pull Syracuse within 75-72 and force a Buffalo time out.

The visitors struck next with a triple that doubled their lead, but Kadary Richmond drained a pull-up jumper, Griffin added two foul shots, and Dolezaj banked in a drive to erase the gap, knotting the game at 78 a side with under four minutes on the clock.

The Orange then matched the next two Bull scores, then nosed in front when Guerrier finished a fast break with a three-point play. The free throw gave SU an 85-82 lead with 1:16 on the clock. Buffalo cut the lead to a single point, but Griffin guided home a Richmond miss for an 87-84 edge.

Ronaldo Segu buried a long three for the Bulls to tie the game with 18 seconds to play. Out of a time out, Dolezaj lost the ball to Buffalo. Griffin had his back, though, sprinting the court to block a lay-up. Guerrier retrieved the loose ball and fired a shot from beyond halfcourt, but only drew glass and a bit of iron, sending the game to overtime at 87-87.

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Syracuse won the tip and Griffin converted on a turnaround jumper below the foul line to grab the lead for good. Buddy Boeheim made a steal in the backcourt and fed Guerrier for a dunk, then a loose ball found Griffin on the doorstep for an easy two and a 93-88 Orange lead.

A Guerrier three pushed the lead to six with a little over three minutes on the clock. A Buffalo score made it a four-point game, but SU scored the next six points, the last four from the free throw stripe, for a 102-92 lead with 1:15 remaining. The Bulls never got within eight points the rest of the way as the Orange hit five-of-six at the line to ice the contest.

SU’s Quincy Guerrier tied for game-high honors with 27 points and snared 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the campaign. Alan Griffin added 24 points, 20 after halftime, and had ten boards. Buddy Boeheim added 22 points, but struggled with his shot, making just 8-of-24 shots, including missing all five of his three-pointers.

Marek Dolezaj and Kadary Richmond wrote all over the Syracuse stat sheet. Dolezaj finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four blocks while Richmond had 13 points, seven boards, five assists, and three blocks.

Josh Mballa paced the Bulls by matching Guerrier’s 27 points before fouling out. Jayvon Graves had 22 points and led the Bulls with eight rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Jeenathan Williams added 19 points while Ronaldo Segu hit three triples for most of his 13 points. Keishawn Brewton added ten points to the Buffalo offense.

The Orange will pursue a 2-0 start in conference play on Tuesday night when Notre Dame visits for an ACC game. The Fighting Irish (2-4, 0-1 ACC) have faced a tough early schedule, dropping three games to ranked opponents already. They will bring a two-game losing streak to Syracuse, including an 88-78 loss to Purdue on Saturday.

Five different ND players average double figures in scoring, led by Trey Wertz, who was just made eligible on Wednesday. Wertz has scored 36 points in two games, including hitting five threes en route to 27 points on Saturday. Prentiss Hubb averages 16.2 points per outing, even after a scoreless performance against Purdue, while both Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski are posting 14.3 points per game. The Irish, as usual, are lethal from outside, hitting 41.1 percent of their three-point shots on the season.

Tuesday’s action will tip off at 7:00pm Eastern with the ACC Network handling the television duties.

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About Jim Stechschulte 686 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.