NEW YORK – Syracuse defeated Florida State 96-57 in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday to earn a quarterfinal date against top-seeded Duke.
But when the ninth-seeded Orange takes on the Blue Devils at Barclays Center at noon on Thursday, it will be without its best player.
First-team All-ACC forward Buddy Boeheim, son of coach Jim Boeheim, was suspended for one game by the conference after punching the Seminoles’ Wyatt Wilkes in the stomach.
The incident, described by the ACC in a statement announcing the suspension as “flagrant act” took place during the first half of the game.
Boeheim delivered the blow to Wilkes as he turned to run upcourt following a basket by a Syracuse teammate. Stunned, the Florida State player bent over, then squatted on the court as play continued.
No foul was called and both players remained in the game. Afterward, Boeheim issued a statement on Syracuse’s official Twitter account admitting that his actions were 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,” he wrote. “It was wrong to act out in frustration. I apologized to Wyatt Wilkes multiple times in the handshake line. He said not to worry about it, but I know it was wrong.”
The Orange (16-16) already figured to have its hands full with Duke, having lost both regular season games to coach Mike Krzyzewski’s seventh-ranked team. The task will get even greater without Boeheim, who led the ACC in scoring at 19.3 points per game and ranked second with 85 3-point baskets.
Asked about the incident at his postgame press conference, Jim Boeheim downplayed his son’s actions – first suggesting that the punch was accidental, then contradicting himself to suggest it was retaliatory.
“The kid pushed him twice and he swung around and hit him,” Boeheim said. “I think it was inadvertent, but that’s okay. I just watched the play. … The kid pushed him twice. You can’t just let people push you around.”
Buddy Boeheim is the highest profile player to be suspended for an ACC Tournament game since Wake Forest’s Chris Paul was forced to sit out a game after an incident in which he hit NC State’s Julius Hodge in the groin during the regular season finale between the teams.