Syracuse zooms past Bucknell, 97-46

first_img Published on November 23, 2019 at 2:01 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez John Bol Ajak shuffled his feet, jutted a fist forward and nodded his head. His teammates, Jalen Carey and Brendan Paul, laughed a few feet away while Silentó’s “Watch Me” pulsed through the Carrier Dome sound system. Though Syracuse huddled leading by 27 points, it was the final minute of the first half and it already felt like garbage time.  Ajak whipped and staggered backward, capping SU’s most well-rounded half in five games. The ensuing 20 minutes would look just as good. Syracuse (4-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) eviscerated Bucknell (2-4), 97-46, on Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome for a resume-filling, stat-sheet-stuffing win. Four SU scorers reached double digits led by Elijah Hughes (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Buddy Boeheim (22 points, four assists) and the program was one deep ball away from setting a new single-game program high. While a Bucknell squad that relies on the 3-pointer shot 3-of-24 from deep, SU went 14-for-29. Starting in the first half, the 2-3 zone forced 23 turnovers and sped up an offense that ran over the Bisons. In the win, the Orange produced their highest point total since tallying 100 against North Carolina State on Feb. 1, 2017. The second half appeared more like an offensive exhibition than a competitive contest. Highlight-reel dunks and blocks accented the blowout. Through five games, Syracuse has avoided the type of loss that could derail its season, and Saturday was no different. Said forward Marek Dolezaj: “This is how we make easy shots: (Joe Girard III), Buddy and Elijah make easy (transition) 3s.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen SU jogged onto the court 12 minutes before the game, a recorded version of the marching band scored warmups. With classes paused for break, the student section appeared less full, too. It was a stark contrast from Wednesday night’s atmosphere — a battle of brothers competing against a backdrop of campus protests. Instead, Syracuse breezed through Saturday with another nonconference win. Syracuse’s first scoring possession showcased the offense at its best. Girard snagged a loose ball in the middle of the 2-3 and fired an outlet to Buddy. A pass to Hughes notched a corner 3. Girard raised his hands skyward as the ball slipped through the net. Hughes converted another a few possessions later. “I’m usually pretty aggressive coming out the gate,” Hughes said, “but today, I kind of made my first three of four. That was pretty much that.” Bucknell tried to find its offense from behind the arc. SU’s 2-3 zone, as it has in every contest but the season-opener, prevailed. In the first half, Jimmy Sotos, one of Bucknell’s leading shooters (12 points per game) worked free in front of the SU bench but a closing-out Hughes forced Sotos off the spot. When Sotos reset and shot again, Hughes palmed the ball away. SU’s defense forced a top-50 3-point shooting team to a 3-for-10 start. Syracuse forced shooters higher in the half-court, often trapping near the tip of the ‘Carrier’ logos closest to the scorer’s table. Watching one trap and fast-break sequence in the first half, Bucknell head coach Nathan Davis sat in a low crouch and turned his head as the crowd rose around him. Orange head coach Jim Boeheim hoped last Wednesday’s shooting performance (10-for-27) would be Syracuse’s worst aside from the Virginia opener. His team obliged for one contest and turned 23 Bucknell turnovers into transition 3s and quick baskets for 28 fast break points. On the ensuing possessions, Syracuse established its lead. Buddy swished a mid-range jumper. Girard muscled inside, earned a foul and converted a set of free throws. A Buddy and Hughes trap and fast-break 3 pushed the lead to 12. Then another deep ball. Through the scoring, the crowd’s volume hovered at a low din. It wasn’t raucous or momentous. But each of Syracuse’s best players took turns exerting their play style onto Bucknell. Girard with his quickness and passing, Buddy and Hughes with their shooting. The Orange suffocated the Bison into a deficit that provided cover for the visitor’s 3-point attack. Sotos’ first deep make occurred with 9:30 remaining in the first half. It was Bucknell’s last 3 of the game. Syracuse’s lead ballooned in the second half. More shots fell and the stands gradually emptied.“When shots are falling you want to keep getting good looks and keep shooting till you miss,” Buddy said. “You want to make plays for your teammates, that’s when everybody is happy.”As seen in the last three games, Boeheim tightened the rotation in the initial 20 minutes. The usual five starters were paced by three freshmen and it wasn’t until midway through the second half when Howard Washington and Robert Braswell checked in. Boeheim deployed a lineup of Washington, Braswell, Jesse Edwards, Brycen Goodine and Quincy Guerrier to mop up the remaining minutes before the walk-ons earned a cheer when they rose from the bench with two minutes left.In the game’s final minutes, Ajak and Buddy stood outside another Syracuse huddle. Highlights of the rout played on the video board of white jerseys dunking and shooting their way past blue ones. Near the 3-point arc, Ajak mimicked a Buddy spot-up 3. The sophomore guard laughed and shook his head. “We’re not that good,” Boeheim said. “They’re not that bad. It was one of those games where everything went right for us and nothing went right for them.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more