Buddy Boeheim takes star turn, leads Syracuse upset of West Virginia into Sweet 16

Jason Owens
·3-min read

For most of his career, Buddy Boeheim has simply been the sharpshooting son of the Syracuse head coach.

As of Sunday, he's a certified NCAA tournament star.

Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone did the dirty work early against No. 3 seed West Virginia. But when the Mountaineers' shooters woke up in the second half, Boeheim responded with a 3-point shooting clinic to lead the 11th-seeded Orange to a 75-72 victory and into the Sweet 16.

Boehiem with another big NCAA tournament game

Boeheim, the son of Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim, led the way with 25 points while connecting on 6-of-13 3-point attempts. The effort followed up a 30-point performance in Friday's opening-round upset of No. 6 seed San Diego State.

Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim and Quincy Guerrier hug following a second-round game against West Virginia in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Indianapolis. Syracuse defeated Syracuse 75-72. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Buddy Boeheim, left, celebrates with Quincy Guerrier after Syracuse beat West Virginia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

West Virginia punches back in second half

The Orange needed everything it got from Boeheim to fend off a pair of 9-0 second-half runs from West Virginia in a win that wasn't secured until the final buzzer.

Syracuse took a 35-29 lead into halftime as its vaunted zone stymied West Virginia into a 32.1% first-half effort from the floor. But West Virginia's offense would not be denied in the second half.

Sean McNeil (23 points, 7-of-13 from 3-point distance) led the surge as West Virginia rode a 9-0 run to cut a second-half deficit to 46-44. Syracuse responded — or, rather, Boeheim did. The Syracuse junior hit back-to-back 3-pointers to halt the run, including a bomb from the March Madness logo to extend the lead back to 52-44.

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But the Mountaineers didn't back down. McNeil powered another 9-0 run that gave West Virginia its first lead of the game at 53-52.

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Boeheim secures win on free throw line

Again, Boeheim stopped the bleeding, this time from the paint with a layup to retake the lead at 54-53. Syracuse would take control of the game from there, building a 70-59 edge with 2:23 left in regulation. But West Virginia chipped away to cut Syracuse's lead to 72-68 with 21 seconds remaining.

At that point, it became a game of getting the ball in bounds and hitting free throws for Syracuse. While West Virginia kept the pressure on, Boeheim connected on 3-of-4 free throw attempts in those final seconds, points that added up to the game's final margin.

The win extends an unexpected run for a Syracuse team that finished eighth in the ACC this season. But as the first round eliminated Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Clemson, Syracuse carries on to the tournament's second weekend, where it awaits No. 2 seed Houston

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