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ACC Roundup - Syracuse Lost At Home As Buffalo Claims The Game And The Carrier Dome Crowd

It was Dome on the range for Buffalo

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Buffalo v Syracuse
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 18: Elijah Hughes #33 of the Syracuse Orange and CJ Massinburg #5 of the Buffalo Bulls fight for a rebound during the first half at the Carrier Dome on December 18, 2018 in Syracuse, New York.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Two games Tuesday night, not counting Duke-Princeton, and while Clemson’s win over Charleston Southern was solid (78-51), Syracuse’s home loss to Buffalo was fascinating on several levels.

First was that Buffalo limited Syracuse to 23 second half points. Second was that a much smaller Buffalo team absolutely dominated Syracuse on the boards to a tune of 48-35/18-10. Third was listening to Jim Boeheim say in his post-game press conference that you could say whatever you want “but we’re not good.”

And fourth?

Fourth was very strange. We realize that the students were gone for the holidays, according to the announcers, but Syracuse (forgive us Orange fans but it’s true) is a very provincial town and Orange teams, particularly basketball, are at the heart of the city’s identity.

Yet at the end of the game, an upstate school - we can’t really call them a rival - a region that Syracuse has dominated for ages, was not only pulling away from the Orange in the Carrier Dome...it was dominating the crowd.

There are aspects of Syracuse basketball we don’t admire (the insular quality for one and the 2-3 zone which gets boring in a big hurry for another) but we have never doubted the local passion for the team.

Yet on Tuesday, knowing that Buffalo was capable of pulling the upset, not only did Syracuse fans leave a stunning number of seats empty (go back and look at the upper deck), by the end of the game, the Buffalo fans were by far outcheering the home folk.

It’s not something we ever expected to see there and must have been stunning to Boeheim.

After seeing that performance though it’s hard to argue: right now, Syracuse is not very good.

Clemson is still missing Marcquise Reed but got a superb game out of Elijah Thomas. Thomas, still getting over injuries of his own, had 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Clemson went into the half down three and came out to an 18 point run which knocked Charleston Southern out of the game.

The Tigers shot nearly 60%, forced 20 turnovers and controlled the boards. Charleston Southern has been good at times but currently are 4-7. Still, it was a solid win and Clemson probably improved. Not much to argue with here.

Some great games on Wednesday as Virginia visits South Carolina (the Gamecocks are just 4-5 but have a strong identity under coach Frank Martin, plus it’s an old ACC rivalry with some history even if most people have forgotten it), Auburn at NC State, Georgia Tech at Arkansas.

On the down side, Virginia Tech plays NC A&T, Miami gets Houston Baptist and North Florida plays at Florida State.

Of these, the game we’re most interested in is Auburn at NC State. The Pack has shown a lot of pluck but as we saw in Alaska, Auburn is pretty darn good.

Frank Martin is kind of prickly which reminds us a bit of Frank McGuire. Before he urged South Carolina to leave the ACC and saw his career decline precipitously, McGuire basically pissed off the entire conference (back then it was Maryland, Virginia, Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Clemson in addition to South Carolina).

The Gamecocks left after the 1970-71 season and after three years in the tournament field, McGuire never made it back, retiring in 1980 as the head coach of what had become a real backwater in college basketball. Since his last trip in 1974, when he had to watch former ACC rivals NC State win the national championship, South Carolina has made the field just five times and only twice consecutively. Frank Martin did make the Final Four (beating Duke in the process), but after that triumph he finished 17-16 last season and is not doing so well this season.

South Carolina joined the Metro first and later the SEC but never recaptured the intensity of the McGuire years. Read this story for instance, which outlines just how intense things were before South Carolina left. This game won’t be as intense - not many people remember the earlier one - but it could still be interesting. Virginia hangs its identity on an unbreakable defense while USC hangs its on toughness.

TUESDAY'S ACC ACTION
TEAMS TIMES VIDEO
Virginia @ South Carolina 7:00 SECN
Auburn @ NC State 7:00 ESPN2
N. Florida @ Florida State 7:00 ACCNE
NC A&T @ Virginia Tech 7:00 ACCNE
Houston Baptist @ Miami 7:00 ACCNE
Georgia Tech @ Arkansas 9:00 SECN
Results
  • Duke 101 Princeton 50
  • Buffalo 71 Sryacuse 59
  • Clemson 78 Charleston Southern 51

ACC Standings

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