INDIANAPOLIS – At halftime of Sunday’s Syracuse-West Virginia game, one of the Orange’s best players, Jim Boeheim, spoke with his youngest son.
Syracuse assistant Jerry McNamara had a simple message for junior guard Buddy Boeheim: Keep firing. Even if you miss 200 shots.
Boeheim scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half and 11th-seeded Syracuse beat third-seeded West Virginia 75-72 in the second round of the NCCA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Orange advance to the Sweet 16, their 20th under Jim Boeheim. Buddy Boeheim continued his stellar postseason, averaging 28.3 points and 24 three-pointers in two ACC Tournament games and two NCAA Tournament games, helping Syracuse enter the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed for the third time since 2016.
According to a study by the Elias Sports Bureau, Buddy Boeheim ranks third in team history with 55 points in the first two games of the NCCA Tournament, behind Gary Clark (60 in 1957) and McNamara (56 in 2004).
There’s nobody better than G-Mac, Buddy Boeheim said. He will always be the best shooter to come to Syracuse. To be able to work with him every day is a dream come true for me. Being there for him every day, taking away his knowledge. … You’re the best shooter on the planet – that’s what he usually tells me, and that’s what I do: Yes. He knows how to motivate me. He knows I need reassurance sometimes. He is like a big brother to me and that is something I will always cherish.
Boeheim opened the game with a three-pointer, but then missed the remaining five shots in the first half. He hit two three-pointers in the second half, and Syracuse extended the lead to 46-35. Boeheim said his attitude toward the missing staff has improved from last year.
The ball finds him when he’s free, Jim Boeheim said. He looked really good today. I’m surprised he only made 6 of 13 [3-pointers], I’m even surprised he didn’t make 10 of 13 the way he shot. I know he was disappointed with himself at halftime, but he showed what he’s made of.
Joseph Girard III makes a three-pointer from the logos and Syracuse holds on for a 75-72 victory over West Virginia.
Jim Boeheim congratulated his son on his journey from nondescript recruit to walk-on Orange. Boeheim said he’s had a lot of hard-working players in his 45 seasons at Syracuse, but he works harder than anyone I’ve ever coached, and it’s not much of a difference.
For Jim Boeheim, who said he doesn’t reach this milestone often in his career, the Sweet 16 took on extra meaning. Syracuse was a Final Four team in 2018 and should have beaten Arizona State before beating TCU and then Michigan State. The 10th-ranked Orange hit .500 in the ACC in 2016, but beat Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga and Virginia before losing to North Carolina in the Final Four.
We like to be good in the regular season and in the tournament, Jim Boeheim said, but if you’re not as good in the regular season as you’d like to be, we have to play well in the tournament, and these guys did that.
Buddy Boeheim defended his father’s track record and said that after last month’s loss against Georgia Tech, he saw a lot of things on Twitter saying crazy things about him.
Do you know how many people dream of going to two Sweet 16s, two Final Fours and an Elite Eight in 10 years? I think that’s pretty good. Buddy Boeheim said he has never made it to the round of 16 after a losing season. He is one of the best coaches in all of sports, there is no doubt about that.
It’s no better than driving him to another Sweet 16.
Buddy Boeheim has received some criticism on social media, but his 76-year-old father certainly has not.
I don’t hear it because it comes from people who don’t matter, Jim Boeheim said. They don’t matter. No offer on the internet makes a difference. None. … When you’ve been coaching at Syracuse for 45 years, everyone has an opinion on what we should or shouldn’t do or what we should or shouldn’t do better. Maybe the next coach will be better. That’s great. I’m glad to see that. But I don’t care what they say in Syracuse.
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