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WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the whistle blew to signal a foul on Syracuse, Buddy Boeheim clenched both of his fists and Joseph Girard III turned down the court and stared. Girard had drawn an and-one with 10 seconds to pull the Orange within two, and his free throw to pull within one, but then his ensuing foul shot bounced off.
Two Georgetown free throws allowed them to establish a four-point lead that stood until the final horn. SU had built a 10-point halftime lead but then watched as it quickly evaporated once the Orange endured a three-minute scoring drought to open the second half. A back-and-forth game ensued, and Georgetown pulled away in the final minute with a 79-75 win.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s loss to the Hoyas at Capital One Arena.
Buddy makes strides toward ending slump
After back-to-back games with six points and zero made 3-pointers, Buddy initially appeared to find his stroke. He connected on his first 3-pointer since the Indiana game with 16 minutes left in the first half, sinking his shot from the left wing, and finished the game with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting.
Despite cracking double-digit points for the first time since the Hoosiers, Buddy still shot two air balls — one in the first half, another in the second — and he tapped his chest after the second one, shaking his head while walking back up the court. He also missed an open 3 in the second half after a long offensive rebound bounced to Girard and he cycled the ball over to Buddy at the top of the key.
But as Georgetown quickly closed Syracuse’s lead and the pair of teams alternated leads, Buddy still emerged as the Orange’s go-to scorer. When a cluster of players closed on a bobbling rebound, Swider exited with possession and pushed the ball up to Buddy, who drove and finished through contact past his Hoyas defender on the right block.
There were still the open misses, as well as contested looks as Georgetown’s defense centered its possession on Syracuse’s top shooter, but as the game dragged on, Buddy’s new reality set in: The 2s, by the blocks and in the mid-range, are his way to gather points now.
The Rice finally cooled but then heated back up
In Georgetown’s last game against UMBC, Kaiden Rice shattered a program record by hitting 10 3-pointers in its 29-point win against the Retrievers. And in the early minutes against the Orange, he found similar success from beyond the arc.
He took a pass in front of Syracuse’s bench and promptly sank the 3 before collecting another ball near the opposite sideline and sinking that too. He took four of Georgetown’s first eight shots — a percentage that mirrored his 28.6% percentage of shots taken, which ranks 185th nationally per KenPom and reflects the rate of shots he’s responsible for while on the court. And his third 3-pointer came despite Jimmy Boeheim closing it out with an outstretched arm.
But then Rice’s makes stopped. He didn’t make another until hitting a shot that put Georgetown up six with eight minutes left, and he only made 5-of-15 without a basket inside the paint. After his fourth 3, Buddy connected on a 3 as a response, but his final shot of the night — another 3-pointer left — gave the Hoyas the lead for good. He finished with 15 points, on five made shots that all came from beyond the arc.
Anselem’s strongest minutes of the season (career?)
Frank Anselem entered into the game for SU at the earliest point he had all season, checking in for Edwards at the 15:03 mark of the first half. It was six minutes earlier than he did against Villanova, four minutes earlier than the Florida State game and eight minutes earlier than he first subbed in when the Orange knocked off Indiana in double-overtime — a game where Anselem hit four free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
But in that time, he drew two fouls and finished two dunks over Georgetown defenders, finishing with a statline of five points, one rebound and one block in 10 minutes.
Flashes from Williams
The latest stage in the Benny Williams development process took place on Saturday, and the results showed a statline of two points and two fouls. But in those minutes, amid the errors and continued yells from head coach Jim Boeheim, he flashed perhaps his greatest strides yet. Georgetown hit a pair of corner 3s on his side of the zone defense, and he picked up a foul after surrendering an offensive rebound, but then he raced up the court in transition with 3:39 left in the first half.
He spun his way around a pair of Georgetown defenders, laid in just his second basket in the last seven games and clapped his hands loudly running back up the court. He found ways to disrupt on defense and in transition, too.
Heading into the Under-4 timeout, he knocked a pass out of bounds from behind. Georgetown wanted a foul, but instead the referee kept his hands at his side. And in the timeout huddle, Boeheim wrapped his arm around Benny’s waist — pointing out the errors he made on the 3-pointers in the corner, but this time in a more mellow tone.
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