Syracuse disintegrates in second half, allows Buffalo to remain undefeated

Syracuse disintegrates in second half, allows Buffalo to remain undefeated

The Bulls went on a 16-6 run in the last seven minutes of the game.
Published: December 19, 2018
Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Buffalo
Buffalo Bulls guard Dontay Caruthers (22) and Syracuse Orange forward Oshae Brissett (11) go after the ball at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on December 18, 2018.

After leading for almost 28 minutes of a 40-minute game, Syracuse’s offense and defense broke down and allowed the Buffalo Bulls (11-0) to finish the last seven minutes of the game with a 16-6 run over the Orange, resulting in a 71-59 Bulls victory.

The Orange started strong in the first half, shooting much better than Buffalo (36 percent UB vs. 57 percent SU), but Syracuse couldn’t convert Buffalo’s missed shots to Orange buckets.

“We’re not going to win too many games scoring 23 points in the second half, and it just goes back to offense — we have to find a way to get some offense,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “I think for the most part, Buffalo had missed a lot of shots to give us an opportunity really to have the chance in the game, but we didn’t get back a few times — they’re very quick.”

Syracuse finished the first half with a 36-32 lead over the Bulls and kept the lead for the majority of the second half until a lay-up from Davonta Jordan gave Buffalo a 55-53 advantage over Syracuse. Buffalo’s CJ Massinburg scored 10 of the Bulls’ next 16 points after Jordan’s lay-up.

“Buffalo’s a very good team and I thought we competed hard and then about the 30-minute mark we had four or five opportunities going to the basket, we just didn’t convert any of them,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “You have to score the points.”

Syracuse’s largest lead was with about nine minutes left in the first when they were up 20-11. Buffalo continued to narrow the lead after that. Four Syracuse players ended with double-digits scores: Elijah Hughes with a team-high 16 points, Frank Howard with 13, Tyus Battle with 11 and Oshae Brissett with 10, but overall SU’s second-half performance was the nail in the coffin.

Syracuse wasn’t able to get past Buffalo’s tough defense, and the Orange only appeared at the line for 13 free throws (only making five of them). Comparatively, Buffalo went 15 for 20 at the line.

“We’re not getting to the basket the way we need to, we can’t win games with 13 foul shots,” Boeheim said. “We’re not playing well at all on the offensive end. I think we can score, I think we’re going to be able to, but we’re not scoring points right now.”

Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Buffalo
Tyus Battle tries to make his way around Buffalo's Davonta Jordan at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on December 18, 2018.

Another issue for Syracuse was rebounding, as they only pulled down 35 compared to Buffalo’s 48.

“With our size, we need to do a better job on the boards,” Boeheim said. “I thought they were tougher than us, the last 10 minutes especially, but there’s a long way to go. I think we show some signs of being able to do some things, but we’re still quite a way away.”

Ultimately, Buffalo was stronger, tougher and wanted the win more. Entering the game, Buffalo at 10-0 had its best start to a season since 1930. The No. 14 Bulls came out to win, and that’s exactly what they did.

Syracuse Men's Basketball vs. Buffalo
Frank Howard (center with towel) takes a rest at the end of the game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on December 18, 2018.

Boeheim said while the team has returned all of its starters from last year this is still the same team that lost 14 games last season.

“We lost 14 games last year in the regular season,” Boeheim said. “We have the same team back with some help, but it’s the same team that lost 14 games. There’s a reason we lost 14 games. We’re that team, we have not demonstrated to me that we’re better.”

The Orange will face Arkansas State at home on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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is a 2019 magazine, newspaper and online journalism graduate and lead sports producer for The NewsHouse.