Syracuse Squeaks By West Virginia in the Round of 32

The Syracuse Orange defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers by a score of 75-72 in the round of 32. The Orange, who nearly missed the tournament field, have now won an impressive five of their last six games. With a majority of those games qualifying as upsets, Jim Boeheim and company have embraced the underdog role. However, this program has been here many times before, and they know how to win games when it counts. Now with a win against legendary head coach Bob Huggins and West Virginia, the Orange move one step closer to the crown jewel of college basketball.

How did this all happen, you ask? Well, let’s find out in our recap of Syracuse’s big victory against West Virginia.

First Half Recap

Syracuse wasted no time warming up, as the team jumped out to an early 11-2 lead with 15 minutes to go in the first half. The Orange continued to dominate as the game continued, expanding their lead to as much as 14 with only 4 minutes to play until halftime. However, West Virginia struck back in the closing minutes of the half with a 13-5 run, narrowing the lead to as little as 6. When halftime finally arrived, Syracuse only led by a score of 35-29.

Second Half Recap

The second half followed a similar path as the first half with Syracuse taking an early double-digit lead. The Orange expanded their advantage to as much as 12 in the first two minutes of play, as a Buddy Boeheim three-point jumper made the score 43-31. Unfortunately for the Orange, a very unnecessary scare from the Mountaineers proved to be imminent. West Virginia stormed back, narrowing the lead to as little as 2 with 12:20 to play in regulation. The comeback did not stop there though, as WVU took their first lead of the game just a few minutes later.

However, Syracuse has had to deal with close games all year, and one West Virginia lead would not deter them from a hard-fought victory. Lead by none other than Buddy Boeheim, the Orange re-took the lead, expanding their advantage to as much as 11 (70-59) with 2:23 left to go. Although the Mountaineers tried to establish one last strong effort at the end of the game, Syracuse managed to emerge victorious by a score 0f 75-72 thanks to some Buddy Boeheim made free throws.

Key Contributors for West Virginia

Despite the loss, West Virginia managed to have four players in the double-digit category for scoring. Sean McNeil qualified as the leading scorer for the Mountaineers with an impressive 23 points. The junior guard went 8-for-15 (53.3%) on field goals and 7-for-13 (53.8%) on three-pointers. McNeil was not the only important guard for West Virginia, as Miles McBride and Taz Sherman both tallied 11 points. Emmitt Matthews Jr. did the dirty work at the forward position, contributing 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists for his team.

As a whole, the Mountaineers went 26-for-70 (37.1%) on field goals, 11-for-26 (42.3%) from three-point land, and 9-for-11 (81.8%) from the line. The team also contributed 41 rebounds, 18 assists, and 8 steals on the evening.

Key Contributors for Syracuse

To no one’s surprise, Buddy Boeheim established himself as the leading scorer for the Orange once again. The senior guard provided 25 points for the ‘Cuse, going 8-for-17 (47%) on field goals and 6-for-13 (46.2%) from three-point land. Boeheim was accompanied by Joseph Girard III at the guard position, who knocked down 12 points on the evening. The sophomore guard went 4-for-8 (50%) on field goals, with all of his points coming from downtown. Among the other key contributors for Syracuse were Quincy Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj, who both matched Girard III’s 12 points. Guerrier went 5-for-9 (55%) on field goals and 2-for-3 (66%) on three-pointers. The sophomore forward also tallied 7 rebounds and 5 blocks. Dolezaj went 4-for-6 (66%) on field goals and 4-for-4 (100%) on free throws. He also contributed far more than just points, as he had 6 rebounds and 5 assists against the Mountaineers.

As a team, Syracuse shot 27-for-52 (51.9%) on field goals, 14-for-31 (45.2%) on three-pointers, and 7-for-11 (63.6%) on free throws. The Orange also tallied 29 rebounds, 18 assists, 6 steals, and six blocks during their victory in the round of 32.

Concluding Thoughts

Syracuse will now advance to the Sweet 16, where they will play either the Rutgers Scarlet Knights or Houston Cougars. The program has now won multiple games in the tournament for the third time since 2016 when they advanced to the final four as a No. 10 seed. Of course, it will only get harder from here on out for the Orange, but the program’s experience should give them a slight edge against their opponents in the later rounds of the tournament. With that being said, go Orange.

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