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Halfway through the first half, Joe Girard III rose for a wing 3. Under the basket, Buddy Boeheim battled for a potential rebound with Florida State’s Wyatt Wilkes. Girard’s shot went in, but after the play Buddy appeared to throw a punch at Wilkes’ midsection, causing the Seminoles player to hunch over in pain and eventually be substituted.
The referees did not make a call on the play and elected not to call anything after a potential review either. However, since then, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that Buddy will be suspended for one game for a “flagrant act” and will now miss Syracuse’s game against Duke.
The play continues to go viral on social media as Syracuse (16-16, 9-11 Atlantic Coast) flew to a 96-57 win over Florida State (17-14, 10-10 ACC). After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim said he was not worried about any potential suspension for Buddy.
“I saw the play. The kid pushed him twice, and he swung around and hit him,” Boeheim said. “I think it was inadvertent, but that’s okay.”
But on Wednesday night, the ACC announced that Buddy would be suspended for Syracuse’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal matchup against top seeded Duke on Thursday. This means that unless the Orange make a postseason tournament or beat Duke, Buddy’s last game for the Orange will be Wednesday’s win over FSU.
After the game, Syracuse Athletics released a statement with Buddy apologizing for the incident. He said he apologized to Wilkes after the game and explained that the action happened in the heat of the game.
“I swung my arm while turning to go back up the court. It was wrong to act out in frustration,” Buddy said. “I pride myself in respecting the game and our opponent. I will not react that way again.”
Boeheim was then pressed again by a reporter on whether Buddy punched Wilkes or not. Again, Boeheim strongly denied any accusations of Buddy punching Wilkes.
“I don’t think he hit him. He just swung around and there was contact,” Boeheim said. “The kid pushed him twice. You can’t just let people push you around.”
Buddy was not made available postgame to comment on the play, but his teammates Cole Swider and Girard also defended him. Swider said Buddy is probably the nicest player on the team and that Buddy’s character wouldn’t be in question regardless of if the play was intentional or not. Girard agreed, adding that he hadn’t seen the play yet and nobody on the court made a big deal about it during the game and that Buddy, “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton confirmed postgame that he also saw the play, but was sure to insist that “there’s not a better kid in the ACC than Buddy Boeheim.”
“He’s a young man who’s competitive, like everyone else, and I don’t want anything to take away from how well they played and what type of fine young man he is,” Hamilton said.
Boeheim said that Buddy did hit Wilkes in response to their battle for the rebound.
“He got pushed, and he retaliated. He shouldn’t have done it, but he did,” Boeheim said. “He swung around, and contact was made. If the referee had seen it, it would have been a flagrant one.”
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