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GREENSBORO, N.C. — No. 8 Syracuse (16-8, 9-7 Atlantic Coast) shot No. 9 NC State (13-10, 9-8) out of Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon, starting its ACC Tournament run hot.
Led by Buddy Boeheim (27 points on 6-for-12 3-point shooting), the Orange shot 14-for-29 from 3 (48.3%), nearly a season-high. Its 89 points were the second-most against an ACC opponent all season.
Syracuse did what it had to on Wednesday. Whether it’s enough to vault the Orange into the field of 68 remains to be seen as No. 1 Virginia awaits in the next round.
Here are three takeaways from Syracuse’s 89-68 second round ACC Tournament victory:
The knockout punch
It took the first four minutes of the second half for Syracuse to turn a five-point lead into 16. Syracuse brought its original starting lineup out to start the second half, and the group absolutely dominated.
It started with defense. The Orange forced five turnovers in four minutes and turned those miscues into buckets. SU ran whenever it could, often taking off after long defensive rebounds as well as live ball turnovers. And like it was all game, SU was scorching from deep.
In one of the few halfcourt possessions during the run, Buddy took a handoff from Marek Dolezaj in the corner, got double-teamed, then found Quincy Guerrier for a wide-open 3 from the top of the key. Joe Girard III made his defender, Cam Hayes, fall in the full-court press, which turned into an Alan Griffin corner 3 assisted by Dolezaj. Hayes fell down again on the next possession, this time on a Dolezaj flare screen for Girard, and Buddy found Girard for a catch-and-shoot triple.
Later on, Dolezaj pushed the ball in transition off a long rebound. It was a three-on-one for SU, and Dolezaj dished to Buddy, who drilled a 3 and got hit in the process.
During that barrage, NC State scored three points in four minutes. There was some self-implosion from the Wolfpack, but Buddy, Girard and Dolezaj broke it open with the 14-3 run. By the time it was over, SU led 57-41 and only continued to pour it on.
One Boeheim that loves Greensboro
Throughout the game, Syracuse went to Buddy in the halfcourt in all sorts of situations. He ran the two-man game with Dolezaj in both dribble handoffs and pick and rolls. He found Guerrier for 3 after a pick-and-pop.
NC State was double-teaming Buddy off screens. If he couldn’t turn the corner, he made quick passes to the open man, which opened up either a good look or a ball swing. He dished a lob to Dolezaj slipping to the basket for a layup and often passed to Jesse Edwards in the middle, who could turn to the hoop in a two-on-one situation.
It felt like SU went to Buddy as a facilitator more than usual. His improved playmaking and handle unlocks another dimension for SU’s already potent offense.
The junior also scored from each level. He opened the game with a spinning drive to the hoop. Once, he caught a pass on the right wing, threw a soft jab step across his body, squared and rose above his defender. He didn’t need any shooting space to splash that attempt. Off another triple-threat position from the left wing, he got his defender in the air with a pump fake, took two dribbles into the paint and sunk a pull-up.
He finished the season strong, averaging 16 points per game and lighting it up from the outside after struggling to find his shot during the stop-and-start regular season. On Wednesday, he entered halftime with a game-high 20 points and finished with 27 on 10-for-16 shooting.
Jim Boeheim’s adversarial history with Greensboro is well-documented. It’s clear the bad blood hasn’t rubbed off on his son. After the win over NC State, Buddy’s averaging 19.8 points per game in four career ACC Tournament games.
SU’s paint defense often negated NC State’s size and rebounding edge. Even as NC State crashed the offensive glass, it rarely could convert second chances because of Syracuse’s flying back line.
Even before Edwards checked in for Dolezaj because of the latter’s foul trouble, SU swatted several shots in the paint. After a Manny Bates offensive rebound on the right side of the rim, Guerrier came swooping in from the left block to turn Bates away. The rejection led to a nifty Girard and-1 take on the other end.
Griffin and Dolezaj combined on another block in a similar situation. When Edwards subbed Dolezaj, he punched a Hayes attempt through the baseline.
Robert Braswell played 21 minutes off the bench and made several smart plays from the low block as well. Once, he rotated from the weak side of the 3-point line to the paint to break up an entry pass to D.J. Funderburk. With 5:30 remaining in the game, he forced Hayes into a missed layup in transition after he broke down Girard off the dribble.
“(Braswell’s) the best on our team of rotating back and rotating across and making those plays,” Boeheim said after the Jan. 9 win over Georgetown.
Griffin and Dolezaj each had two of the Orange’s six recorded blocks. But even when SU didn’t get a hand on it, the Orange frontcourt often challenged shots at the rim. In the first half, Edwards went straight up and forced a wild miss. The Wolfpack scored 24 points in the paint and shot 34.1% overall on 2-point attempts.
The post 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 89-68 win over NC State in ACC Tournament appeared first on The Daily Orange.