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Syracuse returned to the Carrier Dome on Saturday night after a loss to Pitt that likely ended its NCAA Tournament hopes. The loss pushed the Orange to two games under .500, making it increasingly likely that Syracuse finishes under .500 for the first time in head coach Jim Boeheim’s tenure. Tonight, the Orange tipped off against Wake Forest, a team they lost to in Winston-Salem in overtime.
Syracuse (10-11, 4-6 Atlantic Coast) bounced back and topped Wake Forest (17-5, 6-4 ACC) in the Dome 94-72. Early on, Boeheim turned to his bench to provide a different look as Benny Williams in particular played extended minutes. Then in the second half, Buddy Boeheim took over to help Syracuse’s offense go on a long run and this time, the defense showed up too to provide the Orange with turnovers that turned into key points.
Here are three observations from Syracuse’s win over Wake Forest:
Benny and the bench early
At the first media timeout, Boeheim decided to bring Williams, Frank Anselem and a returning Symir Torrence off the bench and into the game. The trio provided a spark, with Williams in particular staying out on the floor for a long time.
The freshman came on and the first time he grabbed the ball, Williams made a play for the basket. He rushed from the left corner and before he rose to shoot, Williams drew a foul. Later, he received a pass on the opposite wing and drove again — this time making it to the basket — before his contested layup trickled out.
Boeheim has harped on the freshman’s tendency to pull up for flat jumpers instead of driving to the basket, so in those first two possessions Williams showed something different. On defense, Williams proved to be vital as well. He blocked a pass down low that went out off of his man, created a turnover for the Orange. Later, when a Wake Forest player lost his dribble in the paint, Williams jumped to the floor to cause a jump ball.
However, some of Williams’ problems also showed up as he had a turnover when he tried to pass to Cole Swider. In 10 first-half minutes, Williams had just one point but provided a glimpse into what he might be able to do.
Buddy shows shades from last season
Syracuse scored just 53 points against Pittsburgh earlier this week, but Buddy was the only scorer that night to pass 10 points. Tonight against a much tougher opponent in Wake Forest, Buddy delivered once again from 3.
He started the night with a 3 from the wing off an assist from Torrence. Then in transition, Joe Girard III lasered a pass between defenders and to the corner where Buddy was wide open to knock down another deep look.
But his biggest contribution of the night started at the beginning of the final 20 minutes. Isaiah Mucius hit a 3 to regain a lead Wake had just lost to a Swider jumper. When Wake Forest tried again to further that lead, Jesse Edwards came up with a big block on a Daivien Williamson layup attempt. The Orange blew down the court and fed Jimmy Boeheim down low, but he decided to pass out to the opposite corner where Buddy was open from deep again.
The next possession, Buddy received the ball one-on-one with his defender on the right wing. Buddy posted his man up, before turning around and hitting a jumper off the glass. Then, after a defensive rebound, Syracuse drove down the court and Girard headed to the paint before turning and passing out to his backcourt partner.
That 3 gave Syracuse a two-possession lead just minutes into the second half and Buddy finished the game with 30 points.
Defense seals in the second half
In the first half, the Demon Deacons went 7-for-15 from 3, with Williamson hitting three to give Wake a lead entering halftime. It looked like it would be yet another game where Syracuse’s offense would show up, but the Orange defense would be the reason for another loss.
However, out of halftime, the same 3s that Wake was draining in the first half began to miss the target. The Syracuse defense came out with more energy, buzzing around the court as Wake Forest committed eight fouls in the second half.
On one play, Buddy came down from his usual spot in the zone, to grab a steal on an errant pass from the Demon Deacons. Buddy turned and threw the ball up to Swider, who was far ahead in transition. Swider rose and slammed the ball in, hanging on the rim for emphasis, with Wake Forest calling a timeout to try and stem the bleeding.
The defense provided the offense with easy points throughout the night as the Orange had 19 points in transition. With Buddy and Swider pouring in buckets on one end, the defense forced 11 turnovers off of Wake in the second half. The Demon Deacons had just six turnovers in the first but fouled nine times in the second half, which ultimately proved to be the difference.
The post Observations from SU-Wake Forest: 2021 Buddy reemerges, defense prevails appeared first on The Daily Orange.