Syracuse men’s basketball tames the Clemson Tigers 91-78

SU men’s basketball tames Tigers 91-78

Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim led the Orange with a combined 48 points on Tuesday night.
Published: January 19, 2022
Alternative Text
Benny Williams (left) collected a rebound and stuffed a block off the bench for Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Syracuse men’s basketball downed the Clemson Tigers in a tight ACC battle on Tuesday night, winning behind a combined 48 points from Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III.

“I’m proud of the way this team fought,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “Four of five games ago, everyone was saying we would get out-rebounded. That was not the case tonight.”

Girard had seen a stretch of poor performances, scoring 32 total points on 3-16 from three in his previous three games. Against Clemson, he racked up 23 points on 4-5 from deep, scoring the majority in the second half.

“When you get heavy minutes, you have to be able to play both halves,” Girard said on his improved performance. “I have not been able to do that, so that was important.”

After four-straight points from the Tigers, Girard hit a tough three to put the Orange on the board. His eight points on a perfect 2-2 from deep and 3-5 from the field gave SU a solid boost, especially with Buddy’s point explosion at the close of the first half.

Buddy scored seven of his 12 first-half points in the final 2:08, including 2-2 from downtown and 1-2 on free throws.

The biggest difference between the teams’ first halves? SU shot 54.5% from three (6-11) versus Clemson’s 30.8% (4-13). Despite this, Clemson still shot 50% from the field. The Orange led by one at halftime.

SU’s often underutilized bench finally saw some action in the first half. Four players scored eight points and shot 4-5 from the field. SU ranks third-to-last in the NCAA in bench minutes and last in bench points per game (6.6).

The second half saw both teams battling a tight matchup, with the Orange just a hair ahead. In the first six minutes, SU shot an impressive 6-11 and led the entire stretch.

SU continued this trend, as Buddy tied Pearl Washington’s career point total (1,490) with 12:30 to go in the second half, matching him for 26th on the all-time Syracuse scoring list. Buddy was 52nd before the season began.

Buddy passed Washington’s mark only five minutes later before finishing the night with 25 points, good for 24th all-time.

The end of the game still had the Orange socially distancing from the Tigers, maintaining a constant multi-point advantage over the entire second half.

Clemson scored 39 points in both halves, and the Orange improved their first half 40 points to an impressive 51 in the second. Their 91-point finish was the highest against any ACC opponent this season.

Jesse Edwards, who has now fouled out in all but one of SU’s ACC games this season, had a bombastic end to the game. He racked up six of his 15 total points (plus three fouls) in the final two and a half minutes. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Another trend keeping true with every ACC matchup: the Orange led in total rebounds tonight, earning 39 to Clemson’s 26, including 9-4 in offensive rebounds and 30-22 on the defensive side.

“These guys were battling on boards, they hung in there,” Jim said.

The Orange played nine players tonight compared to just seven against Florida State, and they tallied a combined zero second-half field goal attempts.

SU is now 9-9 overall, still without any ACC wins when at or above the .500 mark since beating Florida State on the road back in early January.

“We can’t listen to the naysayers and look at our record,” Girard said. “We have to keep going.”

Syracuse next travels to Durham, North Carolina, where they’ll take on the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium. That’ll be the first of two road games before coming back to the Dome on Jan. 29 vs. Wake Forest.