SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse had their highest scoring output of the young season, but it was the defense that stood out Saturday against Bucknell.
Buddy Boeheim scored a career-high 22 points as Syracuse romped past the Bison 97-46.
Elijah Hughes added 21 points for the Orange, including 16 in the first half.
Boeheim hit 6 of 8 3-pointers, including four in a 2:32 span in the second half. Hughes also had five assists for the Orange.
Joseph Girard III had 12 points, six assists and two steals for Syracuse (4-1), which earned its fourth straight win. Jesse Edwards added 10 points. Syracuse had 25 assists on their 37 baskets. Bourama Sidibe had nine points and nine rebounds.
Bruce Moore had 17 points for the Bison (2-4).
The Syracuse defense forced 23 turnovers, including 14 steals and the Orange had 13 blocks. Syracuse scored 37 points off of Bison miscues. The defense held Bucknell to 26% shooting for the game and 3-for-24 from 3 (12%). Bucknell was 6-for-30 and 0-for-11 from 3 in the second half.
“Our defense was very good,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “We’ve been working on it and it was very good today.”
“In the first half we got up because of our defense,” Hughes added. “We got some deflections, got some steals. That was huge for us. Our defense is getting better every day.”
The Orange shot 56% from the field including 14-for-29 from 3, one under the school record. Bucknell had entered the game holding opponents to 26% from beyond the arc.
Syracuse was 18-for-31 in the first half, including 8-for-17 from 3, and cruised to a 51-26 halftime lead, the Orange’s largest first-half output since scoring 53 against Eastern Michigan in the 2016-17 season.
Boeheim complimented his team’s performance but tempered his assessment in the end.
“We just played great. Made shots. They had opportunities but we just moved the ball well,” Boeheim said. “They had a bad game. You can’t read into this game. The last game we played we were three points ahead with 10 minutes to go. We have a long way to go. This is one game.”
Bucknell coach Nathan Davis said he’s had better days, but didn’t seem terribly disheartened.
“Having seen all their games before, it’s the best they’ve played. They played with energy and focus,” Davis said.
“They executed, consequently, we probably ended up playing the worst game we’ve played all year, the worst we’ve played in a while. But at the end of the day it’s just one game, it’s November. We’re trying to win our league, we got to take something from it and get better.”
Elijah Hughes, expected to be Syracuse’s leading this scorer this season, continues to demonstrate an all-around game. He leads the team with 5.0 assists a game.
John Meeks, Bucknell’s leading scorer, tallied just four points in 19 minutes.
Hughes drove the left baseline and slammed down a one-hander in the second half.
Bucknell: It’s hard to gauge much from the game. The Bison was totally overmatched but won’t be facing this kind of competition any time soon.
Syracuse: The Orange have what could be a season-defining, five-game stretch coming up. Syracuse plays Oklahoma State Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off, then the winner of Mississippi vs. Penn State, followed by a home game against Iowa before hitting the road for games against ACC foe Georgia Tech and old Big East rival Georgetown, which defeated No. 22 Texas this week. These five games could determine whether Syracuse receives an NCAA Tournament bid.
After three straight road games, the Bison host Seattle on Monday.
The Orange face the Oklahoma State Cowboys Wednesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The game is part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.