Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament aspirations likely hinge on a victory against NC State in the second-round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Wednesday. Which means that Syracuse’s season may be reliant on the success of the somewhat unpredictable Alan Griffin.
In the past three games, Griffin has scored 26 points and 22 in two of the contests. But sandwiched between those two stellar outings was a four point dud against North Carolina in a pivotal game. Griffin shot 1-10 from the field and was pulled by head coach Jim Boeheim for most of the second half, finishing with just 23 minutes played.
But so far this season, Griffin has been tremendous in matchups with the Wolfpack. In SU’s first victory over NC State, Griffin led Syracuse with 19 points on 6-13 shooting. While Griffin was the best offensive player in the home matchup for SU, he was also fantastic defensively. While Boeheim has berated his forward at times for lackadaisical defensive play, Griffin finished with four steals and three blocks. Those four steals were a season high for Griffin.
Then in Syracuse’s second game against NC State, Griffin finished with 22 points on 9-17 shooting. He was again stellar on defense, finishing with three takeaways, while leading all scorers on the offensive end.
In both games, SU heavily relied on Griffin to pull away with the victory. On Wednesday, it will likely rely on Griffin’s success against the Wolfpack again.
While Buddy Boeheim has transformed into the go-to scorer for Syracuse as the season has gone on, he has played second-fiddle to Griffin against NC State. For SU to advance to a matchup with top-seeded Virginia, it must give Griffin room to work within the offense, and the ability to rely on his defensive instincts. On Wednesday, Syracuse’s season could rely on his success.