Everything was going wrong in the first half for Syracuse. The Orange went into the break down 48-37, after not making a three-pointer in the first 20 minutes and allowing Buffalo to maneuver through the 2-3 zone.
However, everything changed after halftime. Freshman Kadary Richmond entered the game, as starting point guard Joe Girard sat the bench for the last 14 minutes and 36 seconds of regulation and the entire five-minute overtime period. The Orange began to press, the pace quickened, and SU climbed back into the contest, fueled by Quincy Gurrier’s 11-point second half and Alan Griffin’s takeover of the last six minutes.
What a block it was. The LeBron James-esqe chase down in transition kept Buffalo guard Jayvon Graves from giving the Bulls a two-point lead with six seconds left in the second half. If you missed it, it’ll be on the SportsCenter top 10 list, but here it is.
Griffin dominated in OT, scoring nine of his 24 points (half of SU’s scoring) in the overtime period as the Orange drifted away from the Bulls.
The early going was a far cry from the ending. Syracuse could not settle in from deep, going 0-7 from three in the first half, and the Bulls seemed comfortable no matter the scenario. Buffalo wing Jeenathan Williams scored 10 early points and center Josh Mballa dominated in the early going. But after the junior fouled out with two minutes left in the extra period, UB’s inside presence evaporated. Mballa finished with 27 points and seven rebounds.
Guerrier and Griffin led Syracuse in rebounds with 11 and 10 respectively. Guerrier had a really strong game down low. He tied the Buffalo center’s scoring total with 27 of his own, battled with Mballa in all areas of the floor, and showed some quickness when dribble-driving from the perimeter.
Another strong point for the Orange was the performance of Kadary Richmond. The New York native played a complete game, recording 13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks. Richmond’s energy and length provided an immediate disruption to Buffalo’s second-half offense.
UB guard Javyon Gravers also chipped in 22 points and former SU recruiting target Jeenathan Wiliams contributed 19.
Syracuse (6-1) takes on Notre Dame next Tuesday in its second conference games of the season.