Syracuse Basketball: Benny Williams goes full beast mode in win over BC

Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Syracuse basketball, Benny Williams (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

Syracuse basketball wrapped up 2022 in style on Saturday afternoon, with sophomore forward Benny Williams and several other Orange players playing quite well.

The team’s opponent at the JMA Wireless Dome, Boston College, proved feisty and pesky, as the Eagles found themselves down by double-digits on numerous occasions to the ‘Cuse.

But Boston College never threw in the towel, even taking a small lead for a short period of time in the second half. The Orange (9-5, 2-1 in the ACC), though, eventually would pull away, as Syracuse basketball took things to another level on both ends of the court in the waning minutes of this Atlantic Coast Conference clash.

After falling by two points at home on December 20 to Pittsburgh, the ‘Cuse dispatched of the Eagles (7-7, 1-2) by a final count of 79-65 in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve in Central New York.

With this outcome, Syracuse basketball wraps up a six-game home stand on a positive note. The Orange has also captured six triumphs in its last seven encounters.

Syracuse basketball sophomore forward Benny Williams was all kinds of awesome.

Early in the first half, the ‘Cuse looked lethargic, perhaps partly due to not having played a game in 11 days. Senior center Jesse Edwards got into foul trouble, although sophomore Mounir Hima gave head coach Jim Boeheim a lot of quality minutes at center in the second half.

Boeheim, by the way, played 11 of his 12 scholarship guys in this ACC battle. Edwards had 10 points and eight rebounds. Freshman point guard Judah Mintz tallied 18 points and seven assists.

Senior shooting guard Joe Girard III produced a game-high 24 points. In spot minutes, redshirt junior forward John Bol Ajak and freshman guard/wing Quadir Copeland made some positive contributions.

Freshman wing Justin Taylor hit two huge shots from deep. But for me, the MVP of this victory for Syracuse basketball was unequivocally Benny Williams.

His stat sheet was tremendous, but what I also loved seeing was his energy, his hustle and his rebounding. Boeheim has not been shy about voicing his displeasure as it pertains to his starting forwards’ lack of rebounding to date in the 2022-23 season.

Against Boston College, Williams grabbed a team-high 11 boards, including five on the offensive end.

He connected on 6-of-11 from the field, 2-of-2 from beyond the arc and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe, for a total of 16 points. Beyond his 16 points and 11 rebounds, Benny Williams registered three blocks, two steals and one assist.

As we tweeted about during the contest, this is what Orange Nation has been hoping for from Williams, who was a highly ranked player in the 2021 recruiting class but played sparingly as a freshman.

Williams has proven inconsistent in 2022-23, although save for the Pittsburgh loss, he has put forth some strong performances in recent games.

In the victory over Boston College, Williams was super active on defense and, to me, was much more aggressive on offense. His confidence is increasing.

As a collective unit, Syracuse basketball shot 47.5 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from 3-point land and 86.7 percent from the free-throw line, according to ESPN statistics.

The Eagles are not a good shooting squad, and it showed on Saturday afternoon. Boston College made just 40.4 percent of its shots and only 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

The Orange prevailed on the boards and generated 17 assists on 29 made baskets. The ‘Cuse had eight steals, seven blocks and forced 16 turnovers, but Syracuse basketball did have 14 turnovers of its own.

From my perspective, the two biggest takeaways in the Orange’s conquest of the Eagles are how great Williams played, and also how both the Syracuse basketball offense and defense were electric toward the end of this ACC affair, enabling the ‘Cuse to win by 14 points.

Up next, Syracuse basketball will head out on the road, as the Orange will travel to Louisville (2-12, 0-3) on Tuesday, Jan. 3. The tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm, with television coverage on ESPNU.

Happy New Year, friends!

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