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Highlights & Recap: Villanova 67 Syracuse 53

The Orange did not have enough against the #6 Wildcats.

Big East foes clashed in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, and the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats pulled away in a strong second-half effort to beat the Syracuse Orange 67-53 in the Jimmy V Classic.

The key to the game were the rebounds and second-half scoring, as the Wildcats shot an impressive 8-22 from three in the second half and had 50 attempts throughout the game. Villanova dominated the boards, specifically on the offensive end to the tune of 27 offensive rebounds which led to 25 second chance points.

“The last game we played a pretty good rebounding team,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “It was even. So, I’m not going to change anything. We have to rebound better."

Villanova outscored the Orange 41-24 in the second half, shutting down Buddy Boeheim and Syracuse’s high-octane offense to 32% shooting from the field, including 14% from deep.

Buddy shot just 3-15, 0-5 from three point range for just six points. He also failed to collect a rebound and had just one assist. Including the Florida State game, Buddy has missed his last nine three pointers and has shot 6-25 overall in his last two games.

“I just couldn’t make them,” Buddy Boeheim said about his performance. “It was frustrating how I played, definitely let the guys down. I gotta do better. I felt like all the shots we took were good shots, we just gotta make them."

Cole Swider finished with an impressive season-high 12 rebounds, an underrated stat in a game where Syracuse was dominated on the boards. Villanova head coach Jay Wright spoke on the fact he was now playing a former player for the first time.

“Very uncomfortable to be honest with you,” Wright said. “I hope we don’t have to do that again." 

The first half opened with a Cole Swider three-pointer, which ended up being his only bucket of the half despite eighth solid rebounds in contribution.

"He rebounded, he didn't get many looks,” Jim Boeheim said about Swider’s performance. "They're not giving you any catch-and-shoot opportunities."

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Jesse Edwards had himself a solid defensive performance with seven boards and three blocks, as well as the best +/- stat of the Syracuse starters, albeit a poor -10.

Offensively was a struggle for the big man, shooting 1-6 and 8-15 from the free throw line, the only Syracuse player to shoot any free throws.

In the first half, the Orange held the Wildcats to 5-28 from shooting deep, the worst Villanova has shot from three in the first half all season. The Wildcats shot 52% from three in their last game, a 81-52 win over Saint Joseph's.

Jimmy Boeheim led all scorers at the half with 11 points, showing 5-8 and 1-1 from deep. He didn’t have any assists, rebounds, fouls or turnovers at the half, only getting on the stat sheet in the point category.

Syracuse only trailed for 1:27 of the first half, leading for 13:45, despite only extending the lead to as many as five.

The second half shooting and rebounding quickly opened up for the Wildcats, as Villanova pummeled Syracuse, 41-24.

Rebounding, especially offensive rebounding, was the main story in this matchup, as the Wildcats out-boarded the Orange 57-36, including 27-11 in offensive boards.

At the end of the game, Jimmy Boeheim, Joe Girard and Jesse Edwards were the only players to score in double digits, and the rest of the team combined for 11 points on 5-24 shooting.

Ironically, Jimmy and Girard had the top scoring outputs yet both had the worse +/- of the day with both having a -15 mark.

"We're not there,” Jim Boeheim said. “But we showed some signs tonight that we can get there, and I think we're gonna be a lot better in the next two weeks."

Syracuse next takes on another former Big East foe: the Georgetown Hoyas. That game will be in the Capital One Center in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.