In an absolutely critical game against NC State – with star Elijah Hughes sitting injured on the bench – Buddy Boeheim delivered one of his worst games of the season. Boeheim’s 10 points was his lowest scoring game since SU’s win over Notre Dame.
Instead, freshmen Joe Girard and Quincy Guerrier led the way for the Orange. Girard finished with a career high 30 points and Guerrier also tallied a career high, ending the night with 16 and a double-double.
With Hughes on the bench, the freshmen stepped up – not the guy who was top five in scoring in the ACC. Without Hughes in the game, NC State’s defense was able to turn its attention towards stopping Buddy. Even though Boeheim shot 15 times – going 4-15 – he didn’t have one attempt at the foul line.
Without someone else to draw the attention of then defense, Boeheim’s value plummets. Maybe it was just a terrible shooting night. But he doesn’t create his own shot, relying instead on open looks. And he lacks the aggressiveness of Girard, Hughes, or heck even Guerrier at times.
With Syracuse in a bad situation early in a pivotal game, it was Girard who put SU on his back. And while he is still struggling from deep, Girard went 11-12 from the free throw line. NC State couldn’t counteract his aggressiveness.
But they could stop Boeheim, who never drives to the bucket in hopes of a layup or foul. His lack of aggressiveness and willingness to settle for shots was the reason the Orange lost. It seems like Boeheim is not ready to be the go-to option – a role he may be expected to fill next season if Hughes declares for the NBA Draft.
Hopefully for Syracuse, that burden will be lifted from Buddy’s shoulders and placed squarely back on Hughes’ for the Florida State game. By Hughes’ tweet, it seems his injury may not be lengthy.
In the future, maybe Girard becomes the first option. After the loss to NC State, he seems to have propelled himself into the conversation.