Syracuse basketball defeats Niagara 75-45 (Brent Axe recap)

Syracuse, N.Y. — Word came down about 90 minutes before tip-off between Syracuse and Niagara on Thursday night that someone in the SU men’s basketball program tested positive for Covid-19.



Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) drives into Niagara defender Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon


© 11 in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 2020.at the Carrier Do…
Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) drives into Niagara defender Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon



a man holding a basketball: Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) andNiagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon


© 11 reach for a loose ball in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3…
Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) andNiagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon

It was soon determined that Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim, who led the Orange in scoring with 23 points in its season-opening win over Bryant, would not be joining the festivities in the Carrier Dome. Contact tracing placed Boeheim in quarantine as he came in close contact with the Syracuse walk-on who tested positive (Boeheim has not tested positive).



a basketball player jumping up to catch a ball: Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon (11) defense against Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin


© 0 in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 2020.at the Carrier Dom…
Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon (11) defense against Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin

The news came almost exactly 24 hours after the Syracuse women’s basketball game against Lincoln had to be moved to the Melo Center due to a wet court at the Dome.

Could someone please find the voodoo doll that has cursed Syracuse Athletics in the last few days and pull the pin out of its back?

Anyway, the show went on Thursday night in an empty Carrier Dome and Syracuse defeated former CBA star Greg Paulus’ Niagara squad by a score of 75-45.

Niagara was coming off its own multi-week layoff due to a Covid-19 exposure.

The Orange is now missing two starters from its lineup. Boeheim is out for Syracuse’s next two games, Rider on Saturday and Rutgers on Tuesday night, while he sits in quarantine. Senior center Bourama Sidibe is out for four weeks due to a knee injury.

Despite the disjointed approach to the season so far, Syracuse is 2-0.

“We did some good things but practicing three days in 20 days is just not going to get it done,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “You can’t play the way you’d like to. They’re doing the best, I think, they can.”



a person with a football ball: Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) grabs a rebound in front of Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm


© 34 in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 2020.at the Carrier Do…
Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) grabs a rebound in front of Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm

So, 2020.

Think it would be too much to ask if you can cut Syracuse a break and let that game tip-off on Saturday night against Rifer without some dinnertime drama?



a person on a court: Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm


© 34 ducks under a Syracuse defender in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles gam…
Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm

The Sunny Side



Niagara Purple Eagles guard Shandon Brown (12) defends Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III


© 11 in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 2020.at the Carrier Do…
Niagara Purple Eagles guard Shandon Brown (12) defends Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III

The Great Guerrier

Quincy Guerrier dropped the hammer on the Purple Eagles.

Guerrier collected his second-straight double-double, the fifth overall in his career, by scoring 23 points and 13 rebounds against Niagara. He was 9-of-10 overall and did his damage in just 25 minutes of action.

Niagara didn’t provide much of a physical challenge to Guerrier, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Syracuse sophomore forward is coming into his own as a potential star player.

Guerrier is hyper-focused on his play around the rim. He knows his bread will be buttered by hitting the boards and earning high-percentage looks down low.



a person holding a basketball: Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) and Niagara Purple Eagles forward Touba Traore


© 13 fight for a rebound in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 20…
Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) and Niagara Purple Eagles forward Touba Traore

Guerrier’s defense improves game-by-game as well. Last year against Niagara, he was lost in the zone. This time, you could see he knew where to be.

Guerrier also flashed his range by hitting a first-half 3-point shot.

Guerrier is athletic, powerful and confident and his game can only get better from here. He has the potential to be one of the ACC’s breakout stars this season.

Richmond’s Reign

As good as Guerrier was against Niagara, what will have Syracuse fans buzzing from Thursday’s game was the play of Kadary Richmond.



Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) and Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm


© 34 go for a loose ball in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec. 3, 20…
Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) and Niagara Purple Eagles forward Nicholas Kratholm

The freshman guard stepped into the starting lineup for Buddy Boeheim and dropped 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He added seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks.



a basketball player jumping up in the air: Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon (11) and Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III


© 11 collide going after a pass in the first half of the Syracuse and Niagara Purple Eagles game Dec…
Niagara Purple Eagles guard Raheem Solomon (11) and Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III

We finally saw on Thursday night why Boeheim was so effusive in praise of Richmond before the season began.

Richmond was the most exciting player on the floor on Thursday. He dribbled through the lane with ease and provided several highlights, especially a driving windmill lay-up in the second half on a fast break.

His scoring prowess was noted, but the boxscore shows he was ready and able to contribute all over the floor including some sublime passes. A lob pass to fellow freshman Woody Newton for a dunk in the second half was probably the best example of that.

Richmond’s talents are clear and so is the fact he going to push for more playing time in the backcourt.

“I thought Kadary was the difference in the game,” Boeheim said. “He used this game to really help himself and I thought it was a really good experience and a great opportunity for him.”

Richmond’s 15 points were the most in a Syracuse freshman’s debut start since Joe Girard III’s 24 against Seattle last season.

Girard replaced Jalen Carey in the starting lineup after just two games last season.

It comes full circle for Girard as he now has a freshman on his heels.

Newbie Newton

As mentioned above, Woody Newton made a nice first impression in his Syracuse debut, scoring nine points and grabbing five rebounds against Niagara in 15 minutes of action.

Newton brought energy and versatility to the floor off the bench for Syracuse. He attacked the rim, buried a three-pointer and hustled on defense (2 blocks, 2 steals). Newton even spent some time at the top of the Syracuse 2-3 zone in the second half.

It will be interesting to see when/if Newton will find a window in Syracuse’s upcoming games to contribute.

I’d like to see what he can do against some better competition, but the talent is definitely there.

That’s More Like It

You may recall that Niagara made Syracuse sweat a little bit last year in a 71-57 loss at the Carrier Dome.

That was not the case on Thursday night.

Niagara was coming off a Covid-19 pause of its own and playing in its first game of the 2020-21 season. It showed.

The Purple Eagles struggled from 3-point range, shooting 6-of-36 from distance.

Last year, Niagara was outscored by only one point in the second half (30-29). Syracuse had a 33-17 advantage in the second half on Thursday night.

Niagara outscored Syracuse in points off turnovers (12-7), bench points (33-8), and points in the paint (32-24) last season.

Syracuse collected 22 points off turnovers on Thursday. Niagara had just five.

Syracuse dominated points in the paint by a mark of 40-22.

The Dark Side

Hey Joe

2020 has not been kind to most of us and that has been the case for Joe Girard III on the court so far this season.

The Orange sophomore guard went 3-of-11 overall and 1-of-6 from the 3-point line against Niagara. He scored eight points and had four turnovers against the Purple Eagles. Girard was 2-for-14 overall and 2-for-9 from the 3-point line in the season-opener against Bryant on Friday.

Girard has built up a lot of equity with Jim Boeheim and will continue to get ample opportunity to lead the Orange backcourt.

But one can’t ignore that Richmond may be gaining on Girard’s playing time … and fast.

It will be interesting to see what the guard rotation will look like when Boeheim returns to the lineup.

Distance Downer

Syracuse was 5-of-23 from distance against Niagara. The Orange missed all 12 of their second-half 3-point attempts on Thursday night.

Syracuse didn’t really need to lean on 3-point shots against Niagara but its struggles from distance need to be noted as the Orange need to be better there.

SU’s 3-point struggles against Niagara were tilted a bit by Robert Braswell going 0-of-5 from beyond the arc. He’s not going to get that many looks from the 3-point line against a better opponent.

Girard was 1-of-6 and Alan Griffin was 2-of-6 against Niagara.

Of course, Buddy Boeheim’s absence from the game hurt Syracuse in this category as well.

The three-point concerns carry over to defense.

The tape will show that Niagara did not cash in several excellent looks from downtown when Syracuse tended to over-rotate in the zone throughout the game.

Teams are going to get quality looks from 3-point range against Syracuse and better opponents will cash them in and put pressure on the Orange to respond.

This, That and the Other Thing

Niagara is 0-4 (1980, 2000, 2019, 2020) all-time at the Carrier Dome.”,”type”:”text

The 30-point margin of victory for the Orange was the largest since defeating Bucknell by 51, 97-46, last season.”,”type”:”text

Marek Dolezaj stepped in at center for the injured Sidibe and collected seven points and 10 rebounds.”,”type”:”text

Niagara coach Greg Paulus was also once the quarterback for Syracuse football and had two Orange legends on his mind after the game in Floyd Little and Markus Paul. Little recently entered hospice care as he fights cancer. Paul died last week of a heart attack.”,”type”:”text

“I know this is a basketball game and — obviously, playing football at my alma mater — I just wanted to express and share our thoughts with Floyd Little and his family and also Markus Paul. “we’re thinking about him, being a part of the Syracuse football family. We’re just with his family and wanted to let them know that we were thinking about them as well.”

“I know this is a basketball game and — obviously, playing football at my alma mater — I just wanted to express and share our thoughts with Floyd Little and his family and also Markus Paul. “we’re thinking about him, being a part of the Syracuse football family. We’re just with his family and wanted to let them know that we were thinking about them as well.”

Tweet of the Game

Contact Brent Axe: Email 5/8 Twitter

More Orange Basketball:

Jim Boeheim explains how Syracuse was able to play a basketball game after positive Covid test

Even without Buddy Boeheim, Syracuse easily handles Niagara, 75-45

Kadary Richmond shines in first career Syracuse start (Donna Ditota’s quick hits)

You grade the Orange after win over Niagara

Syracuse men’s basketball reports a positive Covid-19 test in its program; will impact Niagara game

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