Syracuse star Boeheim suspended after punch during ACC game
NEW YORK - Syracuse star Buddy Boeheim was suspended for the Orange’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament game against Duke after he punched a Florida State player in the stomach Wednesday during a second-round victory.
The ACC announced the one-game suspension for a “flagrant act” about four hours after ninth-seeded Syracuse beat eighth-seeded Florida State 96-57 to advance to the quarterfinals Thursday at Barclays Center.
The senior, the son of Orange coach Jim Boeheim, earlier released a statement acknowledging he was wrong.
“In the heat of today’s game, after some shoving in the lane, I swung my arm while turning to go back up court. It was wrong to act out in frustration,” Boeheim said in a statement posted on Syracuse basketball’s Twitter account. “I apologized to Wyatt Wilkes multiple times in the handshake line. He said not to worry about it, but I know it was wrong.”
If the Orange (16-16) lose to Duke, Boeheim is likely to have played his last college game. He has indicated several times this season he did not intend to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted athletes for competing during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season.
Syracuse is not in contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and the NIT also seems unlikely if the Orange fall below .500 with a loss to Duke.
Boeheim was not called for a foul on the play, which happened after Syracuse made a basket.
“I saw the play, the kid pushed him twice,” Jim Boeheim said. “I think it was inadvertent. It wasn’t much of a punch.”
Jim Boeheim dismissed the idea of his son possibly being suspended when asked about it. He said if officials had noticed the play a flagrant 1 foul might have been called on Buddy Boeheim. The coach did concede Buddy Boeheim had retaliated for being pushed.
Buddy Boeheim leads the ACC in scoring at 19.3 points per game.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton diffused the situation during his postgame news conference, praising the younger Boeheim’s character.
“I don’t want anything to take away from how well they played and what type of fine young man he is,” Hamilton said. “The game is physical. We expect guys to go out and bang and be aggressive. If something inadvertently happens sometimes we want to categorize it in one way or another.”
“I’ve lost my composure sometimes. I’ve made some mistakes.”
Wilkes doubled over and squatted for a moment after being struck about midway through the first half. He continued to play.
The two players were seen speaking to each other after the game, with Boeheim walking away smiling.
“I pride myself in respecting the game and and our opponent,” Boeheim said. “I will not react that away again.”
The situation was reminiscent of another infamous moment in ACC history, involving a high-profile player.
In 2005, Wake Forest’s Chris Paul hit North Carolina State’s Julius Hodge below the belt during the team’s regular-season finale. No foul was called, but Wake Forest suspended Paul after consulting with the ACC for its first conference tournament game.
Boeheim has become one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the country while playing for his Hall of Fame coach father. For his career, Boeheim has averaged 14.6 points per game and made 306 3s.
Boeheim helped the Orange reach the NCAA Sweet 16 last year with some sharp shooting to back up his “Buddy Buckets” moniker. This year he was named first-team all-ACC.
Syracuse lost both meetings against No. 7 Duke this season, the first by 20 points on the road and then by 25 points at home.