Syracuse, NY – Kadary Richmond had been the only positive result of the first half of Syracuse’s game at Duke on Monday night.
Syracuse was down 52-34 at halftime, but Richmond, the 6-foot-5 freshman, had come off the bench to score 13 points in a variety of spins and moves to the basket.
Joe Girard, on the other hand, personified most of Syracuse’s struggles in the first half. The second-year guard failed to buy a basket, missing all four of his shots. He seemed slow and drew the ire of SU coach Jim Boeheim with a head-scratching fumble on the wing.
So when the second half started, so did Richmond.
It was a rare play by Boeheim, generally putting the same five players who started the game back on the court by the start of the second half.
“In the first half, he was 0-for-4 and he flipped him trying to dribble and he dribbled out of bounds,” Boeheim said, referring to Girard. “Kadary comes in and gets 12 (sic) points. Obviously, it is not a difficult decision. Even if he had started with Joe, he would have played Kadary for most of the second half. I thought it could give us a jump to start the second half. ”
While Richmond had provided the ray of light to an otherwise gloomy first half, there was not a spark big enough to make a difference in the second half.
Duke (11-8 overall, 9-6 ACC) held Syracuse (13-7, 7-6) at bay and finished with an 85-71 win over the Orange at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Richmond finished the game with 15 points, one short of the 16 he scored against Niagara on Dec. 3, his best of the season. Richmond went 11-from-the-field shooting 6-of-11, including a rare 3-pointer. Richmond is now 4 of 16 from 3-point range this season. He also had five rebounds, three assists and a steal against the Blue Devils.
Boeheim said Richmond took advantage of the opportunities created when Duke held onto Syracuse shooters.
“I think one of the things that happens when he walks in is they are so worried about Buddy, Alan and Quincy (that) they don’t really help him,” Boeheim said. “The big man (Duke 7-foot center Mark Williams) was out of the game and (Richmond) came in and hit four layups, five layups and then hit three.”
In the second half, Duke adapted to Richmond. At this stage in his career, Richmond hasn’t figured out how to adjust to the settings.
“The second half saw it coming,” Boeheim said. “They were left behind. They let him get so much penetration and when he got there the big guy was there. So he got up in the air and couldn’t finish.
“They just adapted to him,” added the SU coach. “In those situations, you have to get in the lane and find people. Make better decisions. ”
Girard finished the game with zero points in 18 minutes. It was the continuation of a confusing season for the point guard, who averaged 12.4 points per game in his first year.
Girard has been great or miserable this season, especially over the last month. There have been no intermissions.
On January 19, Girard scored 23 points against Miami. In the three games that followed, he averaged 6.0 points and was 7-of-22 from the field.
Girard came out of the mini-slump with 19 points in a loss at Clemson. He made seven of 13 shots that day.
He then managed just six points against NC State. He recovered with 16 points on shots of 7 of 13 against Boston College.
But in SU’s last two games against Notre Dame and Duke, Girard had five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“Joe has been in trouble,” Boeheim said. “He has had some really good games. He has not only had good games. It has been bad or good. Two or three of the last four games have been bad. ”
So Boeheim has two guards who can play the point. You are learning to deal with adversity. The other is learning how to handle the defense’s attention after you’ve had some success.
Boeheim has said many times this season that Orange needs its three guards – Girard, Richmond and guard Buddy Boeheim – to play well to win.
On Monday, Buddy Boeheim scored 21 points, hitting five of his nine three-point shots. Richmond was productive for half.
“He’s learning,” Jim Boeheim said of the freshman. “He is a really good player, which is what I have said all the time. In the second half he did not score because they took away the push. He will learn. He has to learn how to handle that and when to make a play. ”
And Girard played a bad game.
“He just hasn’t played well,” Boeheim said. “That’s what’s happening. The statistics are there. He has not played well. ”
That combination wasn’t enough to beat Duke on Monday. It’s not likely to be enough to beat any of the remaining quality teams on Syracuse’s schedule.
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