In what was billed the “Battle of the Boeheims,” brothers Jimmy and Buddy lived up to the hype for their respective teams.
Buddy, playing for his father Jim, helped Syracuse pull away in the second half for a 72-53 victory, but Jimmy scored a game-high 25 points for Cornell men’s basketball, while his younger brother was not far behind with 16 points of his own.
“I’ve been beating my brother my whole life, so it would have been really cool to come away with a win tonight, but unfortunately that was not the case,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “Weirdly enough, we didn’t actually say a word to each other the entire game until the final buzzer sounded; neither of us are really big trash talkers, we just play our game.”
The victory for the Orange marked the 40th consecutive win for Syracuse between these upstate New York rivals. While the final score may seem like the Orange was in control for the duration of the game, the Red was able to hang around with its Power-Five opponent for the majority of the contest.
Coming into the game as 19-point underdogs, not many of the 21,123 in attendance at the Carrier Dome thought that the Red had a legitimate chance to unseat the home team. But Cornell’s scrappy squad did its best to make things interesting Wednesday night.
Cornell fell behind by eight points early on in the first half but was able to claw back and take a lead one minute prior to halftime. The teams traded baskets at the beginning of the second half, and Cornell was still within one possession with 9:48 to play, but Syracuse’s length and shot-making ability were ultimately too much for Cornell to handle.
“We played a really good 30 minutes,” Jimmy Boeheim said. “We kind of fell apart at the end, but really the entire time, I thought that we were in a very good position to pick up the win. Either way, I had a lot of fun tonight.”
On offense, Cornell relied on Jimmy Boeheim to provide the scoring punch, and he did not disappoint in this role. He shot 44% from the field and made nine free throws en route to his 25-point performance.
Additionally, freshman Jordan Jones gave the Red significant production off the bench. He ended the night with 15 points, including three 3-pointers and six made free throws.
Defensively, Cornell was able to limit the Orange’s 3-point shooting in the first half; however, the home team was able to see its overall shooting numbers in the second 20 minutes significantly increase, mostly behind Elijah Hughes’ 15 second-half points.
After shooting 35.7% from the field in the first half and 28.6% from three, Syracuse shot 60% from the field after halftime and 46.2% from behind the arc.
“We did a good job sort of confusing them when we were on defense, but towards the end of the game we kind of cracked, which is unfortunate,” said head coach Brian Earl. “Our guys did exactly what we wanted them to do; we had them at our pace for as long as we possibly could, but it just got away from us at the end.”
Cornell’s offense was not able to keep pace, as the Red shot just 22.2% from beyond the arc throughout the game and missed six free throws in the second half.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the night was Syracuse out-rebounding Cornell, 35-24, including 12 offensive rebounds for the home team. The size differential was apparent all night, and Syracuse made the most of this advantage in the second half, as it scored easily inside and grabbed several key rebounds.
Although the game marked the Red’s fourth defeat in a row after an opening night victory against Binghamton, the team knows that it easily could have been over .500 at this point in the season. Cornell has lost two games by one point this season, including a 59-58 defeat against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in which the Red blew a 20-point second-half lead.
“We really have to step up,” Earl said. “We have all of these so-called moral victories to start the season, but I don’t see much of that. At the end of the day, we lost by 19 points and have lost four straight games.”
Cornell will look to get back in the win column when it travels to Coppin State Saturday night.