With 16:49 to go in the second half, it appeared Syracuse’s tournament hopes were dead, barring an ACC tournament miracle. The Orange were down 20 points. They couldn’t afford to lose another quad two game, with zero quality wins on the resume. But despite everything on the line, SU looked nothing like a desperate team early on in the game.
“Defensively we’re standing still,” Jim Boeheim told TK99 at halftime, “We didn’t get going early and just gave them open shots.”
It wasn’t until Syracuse put on a full-court press that Syracuse played with energy on defense, and on the glass. A suddenly out of sorts Notre Dame offense opened the door for a Buddy Boeheim offensive explosion that saved SU’s season. Boeheim scored a career-high 29, 20 of which came in the second half, and Syracuse won 75-67.
“It felt good to finally see some go down,” Buddy Boeheim said.
It has not been an easy season for the junior. His three point percentage has ranged from 7-10 points below last year’s 37% clip. Buddy had resorted to a mid-range heavy style, shooting a season low three treys against Boston College last week. But after hitting his first three of the second half against the Irish, the Buddy of old reappeared.
He was moving furiously and intelligently without the ball, finding the open space and firing off his quick release. Boeheim shot a 6-10 mark from beyond the arc. He single-handedly made up for a measly 14-point combined effort by Syracuse’s two leading scorers, Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin.
With the season on the line, Buddy Boeheim finally had the performance Syracuse needed from him all season long.
After reminding reporters that Buddy led the ACC in three-point percentage and three-pointers made last season, Jim Boeheim credited his son’s breakout performance with clean looks. He specifically cited a three off of a Guerrier offensive rebound and kick, plus a dribble hand off from Marek Dolezaj that resulted in a wide open look.
“If anything, I think he’s a better shooter this year,” Jim Boeheim said, “teams are just playing him really hard.”
“A couple times I got into space,” Buddy said, mirroring the coach’s sentiment. “Maybe one of the shots was a tough shot, off a curl at the end of the shotclock.”
Regardless of shot quality, Boeheim capitalized better than he has all season. Because of that, the Madness remains in play.