Syracuse men’s basketball captures victory, winning record in ACC play

SU men's basketball captures victory, winning record in ACC play

Starting five push the Orange past Boston College to move to 12-6 overall and 6-5 in the ACC.
Published: February 13, 2021
NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse
Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) drives to the basket as Boston College Eagles guard Makai Ashton-Langford (4) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

The Syracuse men’s basketball team kicked off Valentine’s Day weekend by extending its home winning streak to five games with a 75-67 victory over Boston College. SU improved to 12-6 (6-5 ACC) on the season, which marks the first time the Orange have been above .500 in ACC play since the first matchup with BC on Dec. 12.

The victory punctuates a season sweep of the Eagles for the Orange; Syracuse beat BC on the road 101-63 in their first matchup. In that game, the Orange starting five all posted double-digit points, and Alan Griffin had a game high 22 points.

In similar fashion, all five starters scored in the double digits for the Orange. Joe Girard III led the way with 16 points, six boards and three steals, followed by Griffin with 14 points and eight rebounds. Quincy Guerrier was a stalwart on the defensive end with a game-high four blocks.

To open the game, the first five combined field goals were three pointers, and SU took an early 14-6 lead. Griffin, Girard and Buddy Boeheim all contributed triples early in the first half. In less than seven minutes, all five Orange starters recorded their first points.

The Orange defense was hot and cold to start, and halfway through the first frame, BC cut the SU lead to 27-26. Most possessions on the defensive end resulted in easy baskets for BC or stifling defense by SU, a blend that helped keep Boston College close throughout the first half.

Foul trouble for SU also helped keep the Eagles within reach in the early going, emphasized by the fact that Marek Dolezaj had more fouls than points for most of the half and was relegated to the bench with three minutes remaining.

Neither team was undisciplined, but Syracuse committed 10 fouls to BC’s 6 in the first. A brief skirmish broke out before the end of the first half in which both teams were tagged with multiple personal fouls. Notably for the Orange, Griffin was assessed a third foul, the second starter in foul trouble entering the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse
Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) shoots the ball against the Boston College Eagles during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

A difference in offensive philosophy marked a strong contrast early in the game. In the first half, the Orange scored 22 points in the paint to the Eagles’ eight, but BC shot nine more threes than SU. The efficiency of the Orange attack, 54.8% from the field to 36.7% for BC, helped them maintain a 41-35 lead heading into the half.

Girard came out hot for Syracuse with a game-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. He read a BC pass on the perimeter and tipped the ball down court to himself, capping off the steal with a patient layup as the trailing defender fell for his shot fake.

SU flipped a switch coming into the second half and regained their focus as they retook their largest lead of the game 47-35. Guerrier hammered home his second basket of the afternoon with a thunderous two-handed dunk on a feed from Buddy Boeheim.

With 16:30 remaining in the game, Griffin was subbed out following his fourth personal foul. One possession earlier, Jim Boeheim shook the Dome with criticism of Griffin’s defense on a corner three for BC. In the postgame press conference, Jim Boeheim addressed his struggles.

“(Griffin) needs to make better decisions…It’s a learning process,” Boeheim said.

Girard’s hot start betrayed him in the second half as he missed his first three attempts, including a deep three followed by an annoyed shrug from Coach Boeheim. He also drew his coach’s ire on a no-look breakout pass that sailed behind Buddy Boeheim into the video boards courtside.

A cold stretch for the Orange brought the Eagles back 53-47 with just over 12 minutes remaining. Syracuse excelled at occupying passing lanes in the second and forced numerous turnovers. Back in the game, Griffin stole a pass, ran the floor and skied to roll in a layup to stave off another comeback run by BC.

Syracuse got on the right side of the whistle in the second frame and entered the bonus with just under five minutes remaining. Guerrier hit both free throws on the one-and-one and Dolezaj followed with two more on the next possession to push the SU lead to 67-57.

Turnovers, offensive rebounds and second chance points kept the Eagles alive into the final minute of the game. SU managed to convert all of their late free throws to keep BC at bay, and the clock wound down to a 75-67 victory for the Orange.

SU finished the game with 38 points in the paint to BC’s 20, and the Orange attempted 20 fewer three pointers than the Eagles and 20 fewer threes than their last game. After the game, Jim Boeheim said BC shot well but SU contested better in the second half. Boston College shot 9-of-31 from three in the game, one more make on the same number of shots as the teams’ first matchup.

After the game, Jim Boeheim explained the difference in shot selection from the first game to the second.

“(Boston College) didn’t give us any open looks,” Boeheim said. “The game dictates what you do – I don’t dictate what we do. The best way to beat them was to get it inside.”

With the win, Syracuse moves to 12-6 on the season and 6-5 in the ACC. The Orange will be back in action seeking their third consecutive victory on the road against Louisville on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 6:30 p.m.