Syracuse continued its torrid run into the ACC slate with a 61-53 win over Clemson in its conference home opener. The victory pushes the Orange to 11-4 and 2-0 in ACC play.
The glaring takeaway from the win came at the center position. For starters, Paschal Chukwu registered his first “did not play” of the season as a healthy scratch. After a couple of frustrating performances, it seems like Jim Boeheim has finally seen enough of the former starter. In his place, Dolezaj remains undefeated as the starting center and had a very productive night. He spread himself out with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. The sophomore also had a huge block to put the game away with a minute left. Dolezaj has brought a much more diverse skillset to the floor since assuming the starting role four games ago. He did all of this despite going against one of the bigger bodies in the conference in Elijah Thomas, who stands at 6-foot-9 and 245 pounds. Dolezaj’s overall performance was one that Boeheim called his best of the season.
With no Chukwu, that left Bourama Sidibe as the first one off the bench for the Orange in the frontcourt. He provided a solid night with three blocks and four points in 16 minutes of reserve.
Chukwu’s absence comes on the heels of a game against Notre Dame where he had 2 points, 3 rebounds and fouled out. All of that came while missing bunnies at the rim and giving Syracuse fans more reason for panic than promise.
The other positional item worth noting is the team’s point guard minutes disparity. Frank Howard played one of his best games of the season with 12 points in 35 minutes. Meanwhile, Jalen Carey saw just five minutes of scoreless action on the floor.
Syracuse is one of five remaining undefeated teams in the ACC and next takes the floor on Saturday against Georgia Tech, who narrowly lost to No. 9 Virginia Tech in Atlanta.