Syracuse men’s basketball wins battle against Bulls in OT, tops Buffalo 107-96

SU barely beats Bulls in OT comeback, 107-96

The Orange makes a second-half comeback for the second time this week.
Published: December 19, 2020
Dec 19, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) dunks the ball against the Buffalo Bulls during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) dunks the ball against the Buffalo Bulls during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

Although Syracuse leads the series 28-6, the Orange looked to regain their winning streak against Buffalo after falling to the Bulls in their last tip off back in 2018. Syracuse did just that in a second-half comeback for the second time this week, topping Buffalo 107-96 in overtime.

The Bulls put up a great fight despite being without their head coach, Jim Whitesell who missed tonight’s game due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Assistant coach Jamie Quarles stepped up to the plate and lead his team to an extra time loss against the now 6-1 Orange team.

It was a close battle early on as both teams tallied back-to-back buckets for the first four minutes of the game. UB struck early, sinking their first two points 11 seconds in but the lead was quickly erased by Quincy Guerrier as he connected with Buddy Boeheim off a bounce pass and logged his first dunk of the game.

Syracuse kept on the dunk run with Alan Griffin grabbing one of his own off a pass from Marek Dolezaj, putting Syracuse up 4-2 under two minutes in. Syracuse wasn’t done yet, besting Buffalo once again with a field goal from Boeheim. From there, a couple back-and-forth baskets resulted in an 8-6 score after four.

Buffalo answered with two back-to-back threes put up by Jeenathan Williams, giving the Bulls their first lead of the game, 15-12, since those first two points. The Orange battled back, grabbing the equalizer with Boeheim’s additional point added after being fouled on his completed two-point basket.

Both teams brought their A-game, showing strong offense and defense early. But Buffalo’s Josh Mballa, playing his first game after missing three in a row, came to play. Mballa put the Bulls up 19-17 with two straight field goals and their lead was strengthened by an in-transition layup for Ronaldo Segu for two off of a missed basket from Boeheim on the other end.

The Bulls dominated the  last 10 minutes of the first half as they went 26-16 and had a 17-4 run late in the half. The Orange made a decent comeback heading into the intermission but were unable to pass the Bulls, and Buffalo took the 11-point, 48-37 lead at the end of the first half.

Griffin had a much better game than his showing on Wednesday, getting himself on the scoreboard in the first half with two field goals compared to the zero completions in the 24 minutes he played in Wednesday’s game. Guerrier, Dolezaj and Boeheim had nine points each at the half while Joe Girard III remained fairly quiet, unable to put up any points in his 11 minutes played.

Both teams had 20 points in the paint with just over two minutes remaining in the first half. The Orange were unable to make any of their three-point attempts, going 0-9 in the first 20. Syracuse had a lot to prove heading into the second half against last year’s nationwide leader in rebounds.

Dec 19, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim (35) drives to the basket as Buffalo Bulls forward Jeenathan Williams (11) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse Orange guard Buddy Boeheim (35) drives to the basket as Buffalo Bulls forward Jeenathan Williams (11) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

Girard finally broke his silence, putting up two just 28 seconds into the second half. But the Bulls’ offense proved to still be too much for the Orange, increasing their 11-point first half lead to 16 in the first four minutes of the second.

Boeheim increased his point count to 11 with a two-point basket, decreasing the deficit to 14 but, yet again, Buffalo was quick to answer with two of their own and they regained their 16-point lead, 59-43.

Guerrier sunk Syracuse’s first three of the game and his sixth of the year, closing the gap to 13. The Orange were now 1-12 in three-point attempts on the night compared to the Bulls’ 7-15.

Boeheim brought Syracuse within eight, helping the Orange in their 9-2 run over three minutes. But the back-and-forth nature of the game returned as Buffalo regains an 11-point lead, 67-56, with just over 10 to go in the contest.

Syracuse put on the pressure, Dolezaj picked up back-to-back baskets and Boeheim added another two, slowly breaking down Buffalo’s lead. But the Bulls kept up their offensive push, with Syracuse allowing a season high 58 points in the paint.

Griffin brought the Orange within three with six and a half to go in regulation with Syracuse’s second three pointer of the night, bringing them to just 2-16 beyond the arc. Buffalo grabbed another three to widen the gap, but Syracuse was quick to answer. Kadary Richmond popped up two with under five to go, Griffin brought it within two, sinking both shots from the free-throw line, and Dolezaj tied the game at 78 with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

In their second comeback of the week, the Orange grabbed a three-point lead off a Guerrier basket and extra point with under a minute and a half to go. Buffalo battled back, tying the game at 87 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation off a three-point basket by Segu. With both team’s last-ditch attempts just missing, the game headed into overtime.

Dec 19, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Kadary Richmond (3) shoots the ball as Buffalo Bulls forward LaQuill Hardnett (1) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse Orange forward Kadary Richmond (3) shoots the ball as Buffalo Bulls forward LaQuill Hardnett (1) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

Griffin put Syracuse up by two 15 seconds into extra time. A foul on Guerrier gave Buffalo one point from the line, putting them within one. Guerrier sunk another two to put the Orange up 91-88 with over a minute already ticked off the clock.

An offensive rebound by Griffin added another two for Syracuse, but the Bulls’ Mballa answered with two more seconds later. With just under three to go in OT, Guerrier picked up his second three-point bucket of the night. Buffalo’s Segu answered with two before Boeheim increased the Orange’s lead by two more.

Off two back-to-back Buffalo fouls, Syracuse gained a nine-point lead with under two minutes to go. Richmond added another free throw and Graves brought Buffalo back within eight with a quick jumper with 1:05 to go.

It was all Syracuse from there. Boeheim and Griffin picked up five free throws between the two of them and finished the game off 13 points over the Bulls, 107-96.

Guerrier led the team in both points and rebounds and Dolezaj topped the team’s leaderboard in assists and blocks. Griffin came in second in the team’s points and rebounds, logging 24 points and 10 rebounds on the night.

Syracuse will tip off in their third home game in a row against Notre Dame on Tuesday Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.

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is a magazine, news and online graduate student and sports lead producer for The NewsHouse.