A quick take on Syracuse’s uplifting 94-72 victory against Wake Forest, on a wintery 8º Saturday evening outside of the Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: With an impressive atmosphere of a ‘White Out Blizzard’ promotion organized by the SU students in attendance for the first time this semester, and playing in front of reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks sitting courtside near the Orange bench, Syracuse (10-11, 4-6) played a strong second half at both ends of the court to record a much-needed victory, and revenge for a 77-74 OT loss in Winston-Salem on January 8. The Orange shot a torrid 62% in the second half (55% from beyond the arc), and turned up the defensive pressure causing 17 Wake turnovers and limiting the Demon Deacons to 30 points after intermission. Wake Forest (17-5, 6-4) is now 0-5 all-time in the Dome in ACC play dating back to 2014.
ANALYSIS: After a shaky overall game in a one-sided loss at Duke a week ago, and poor second half performance in the defeat at Pittsburgh Tuesday night, the underdog (2.5 points) ‘Cuse took it to a Wake Forest team that had won four straight games. Not only did SU shoot well from the field against one of the ACC’s better defensive teams this season, the Orange played one of its better defensive games of the season getting stops which led to baskets in transition and down low. Syracuse scored 42 of its 94 points inside the paint. SU also played crisply with a season-low five turnovers. Wake’s Daivien Williamson had 27 points, 17 in the first half to give the Deacs a halftime lead, but the SU defense shut down WF’s leading scorer Alondes Williams holding him to eight points in the dominant second half showing.
HERO: As Buddy Boeheim heated up after intermission, so did the Orange. “Bullseye” Buddy had a game-high 30 points, one short of his career-high, shooting 6-for-11 from long range, and added an impressive five rebounds and seven assists. Cole Swider awakened from a recent scoring drought to add 18 points shooting 8-for-11 from the field. Frank Anselem made the most of his playing time by contributing seven points and five boards in a productive 17 minutes off the bench.
ZERO: Credit a more aggressive Syracuse defensive effort, but Wake Forest was certainly slopping with the basketball committing its 17 turnovers which led to 19 Syracuse points. Wake shot just 36% in the second half, and its defense, giving up an average of just 68 points a game, was torched for 94 points on this night.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse goes back on the road in ACC play to take on North Carolina State this coming Wednesday night, February 2, at PNC Arena in Raleigh. Last season, the Orange recorded a trifecta of victories over the Wolfpack at home (76-73), on the road (77-68), and in the ACC Tournament (89-68). N.C. State (10-12, 3-8) fell at North Carolina 100-80 Saturday afternoon, giving up 56 points to the Tar Heels in the first half. Game Time: 9:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPN2.