Syracuse picked up their eight win of the season, routing Miami at home, 83-57. Here are some takeaways from the game:
Syracuse rebounds from a disaster against Pitt
Syracuse had their worst game of the season last Saturday, getting throttled on the road by Pitt, 96-76. Little went right in the second half, as the Orange gave up 64 points in the second half. Still, Pitt has turned into one of the top tier teams in the conference, defeating Duke on Tuesday night, 79-73, to improve to 8-2, so the loss may not be as bad as it seems be season’s end.
The Orange started out on Wednesday night as if they still were stuck in the second half of the Pitt game. Miami began with an 11-2 run to start the game thanks to Hurricane guard Anthony Walker scoring nine points in the first six minutes of the game.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim went to his bench quicker than normal, subbing sixth man Kadary Richmond and seldom used backup center Jesse Edwards at the 13 minute mark of the first half.
That proved to be the impetus to an 11-0 run. Richmond worked well with Joe Girard III and Alan Griffin, as both hit deep shots during the run. The Orange also got a couple of bonus baskets from Edwards around the rim.
Unlike games against Georgetown and Pitt when Syracuse blew double-digit halftime leads, the Orange didn’t struggle in the second half. Instead, the sharpshooting of Buddy Boeheim and Girard combined for 46 points on 16-27 shooting and the Orange outscored the Hurricanes by 12 after intermission.
Covid-19 has hit the Orange harder than we even knew
Following the win, Jim Boeheim nonchalantly dropped the news bomb that during the last COVID pause in the schedule, both Girard and Buddy Boeheim had COVID-19.
“I think Buddy is just starting to get his rhythm back from the time out,” Jim Boeheim said. “Having COVID, the whole thing. Both Joe and Buddy were out with it [the virus].”
Girard and Buddy Boeheim’s struggles make more sense with that context. Boeheim is shooting a career-low 29.4 percent from downtown, while Girard’s field goal percentage is at 34.4 percent, down nearly a half point from his freshman year.
Girard mentioned that he had no sense of smell when he had COVID, and sent a video to Buddy Boeheim of him smelling hot sauce with no effect.
“I don’t know if I am one-hundred percent, but I am pretty close,” Girard said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling good.”
The Orange need Jesse Edward’s length down low
It was painfully obvious in games against Pitt and UNC.
Syracuse was badly outrebounded in those three games, as Justin Champaigne of Pitt and Garrison Brooks of UNC used their length and stretch to overpower Syracuse.
Although Miami does not have the center presence that those two teams do, Syracuse still remained outmatched down low on Wednesday, especially with Marek Dolezaj picking up three first half fouls.
Jim Boeheim has been reticent to use Edwards, citing his lack of strength, but with Bourama Sidibe out indefinitely with an injured knee, he’s been forced to press Edwards into action.
It worked out well on Tuesday, as Edwards finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds in by far his best performance of the season. If the Orange can get more productive minutes out of their sophomore center, it will allow Dolezaj to slide back to his more natural wing position, giving SU’s back line more balance.
“Jesse was a game-changer tonight,” Girard said. “He was a big reason why we won tonight.”
Kadary Richmond makes Joe Girard III better
Richmond played another all-around solid game, finishing with seven points, eight assists, five steals and two rebounds.
With Richmond at point guard, Girard shifted to his more natural position of an off the ball shooter, and the results were palpable. Aside from finishing with 23 points, many of Girard’s looks were in the flow of the offense thanks to Richmond.
Richmond sparked the run with a steal for a layup. On the ensuing possession, he picked Kameron McGusty’s pocket, and found Girard for a 3-pointer.
One possession after that, Richmond was again sparking the offense, this time finding Griffin for a 3-pointer, which tied the game at 11 with 11:50 in the first half.
Edwards followed with a slam and after that Girard nailed another 3 to put the Orange up 20-14. Who assisted on those baskets?
In case it wasn’t obvious, it was Richmond.
“Kadary made some really good passes,” Jim Boeheim said. “And his defense was exceptional.”