Syracuse Uses Big 2nd Half To Put Away High Point

Rich Barnes

Syracuse 75 - High Point 54

After a frustrating first half, the Nationally Ranked #2 Syracuse Orange were finally able to pull away from the over-matched High Point Panthers using a 17-0 run midway through the second half. High Point threw everything they had at the Orange, but finally ran out of steam and started giving up easy turnovers and open shots to a dangerous Syracuse team.

The first 25 minutes featured a different game, and one that most fans were not happy to watch. High Point would take a full 30 seconds off the shot clock, and then fire a well defended three pointer from 7 feet behind the line, which would somehow go in. Syracuse ran their normal offense, which takes 5 to 15 seconds at most before they score, but was not able to establish their high-paced flow due to the Panther's deliberate, painful offense that avoided turnovers.

*The Usual Suspects*

We saw the same consistent production that we've come to expect from Trevor Cooney (17 points, 5-6 from Three), C.J. Fair (15 points, 5 Rebounds on 50% FG), and Jerami Grant (10 points, 6-6 FT). Even behind those three, Tyler Ennis is easily the Most Valuable Player for the Orange, and put up an MCW line tonight with 10 points, 9 assists, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds. With 15 minutes in the second half, facing a one point game, Ennis had a fast break layup, and then immediately stole the inbound pass for 4 points in 2 seconds. This was the game changing series, and the game quickly turned from 41-40 to 63-43.

It was comforting to see Cooney back in his regular role after putting up the goose-egg vs St John's. He was still well-guarded and shadowed for the whole game, but this time he was able to still make the quick-release three pointers through the small window.

C.J. proved to be the senior leader and consistent player that we count on during times that the rest of the team needs him. He didn't quite hit the 20 foot two pointers that he specializes in, but he was able to curl around screens and drive to the basket at will. In what has become a regular occurrence, C.J. threw down a BIG dunk over a defender on a baseline drive that had the Dome rocking.

Jerami Grant's most notable development was an injury scare in the second half. While driving to the basket, he stepped on a defender's foot and seemed to really hurt his left ankle. He slowly got up, only to sit back down on the court and wait for the whistle (Which the refs didn't blow for 2 full series, causing Boeheim to flip out). After hitting the locker room, Grant did return to the bench, but did not play again in the second half. Stay tuned to this development, as Jerami's energy is a big asset for this level-headed team.

*Baye Focals*

Today was Baye Moussa Keita's day, finishing with a season high 7 points and 3 steal/blocks. Baye's defensive prowess makes him a fixture on the court, and he finally took it on himself to get aggressive on the offensive end. If he shows himself to be competent on offensive, that will buy him a lot more playing time.

Rakeem Christmas provided his normal schizophrenic output, with a couple highlight blocks, a couple excellent offensive plays, followed by mental lapses on defense and invisibility and inconsistency on offensive. If Rak ever visits a psychiatrist, he might be able to finally tap that pro potential that he flashes for 10 seconds at a time.

This was just not Dajuan Coleman's day, as he suffered through a 0 point, 3 foul performance that only showed off his defensive shortcomings. All of the benefit of his big, strong frame is overshadowed by his slight lack of quickness and his extreme thirst for offensive production. Being the third option at center, Boeheim does not leave Dajuan on the floor to learn from his mistakes, and will continue to work on putting the ball in the basket until his defensive issues force him to the bench.

*Freshman And Role Players*

Michael Gbinije seems to get more confident every day, and his defensive upgrade at either guard position helps him to be Boeheim's safety valve when the other teams start making threes. Gbinije had both a nice drive and a clutch three pointer to seal Taco Time for this hungry crowd.

Roberson seemed to be the first freshman off the bench, and I like his style, because you don't notice the "downgrade" at forward as much. It's hard to be compared to C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant. BJ Johnson seems like a bigger project, and is much more trigger happy. He had a decent steal at the end for a fast break opportunity, only to lose the ball out of bounds. Also, BJ and Roberson yet again chose the same side on defense, immediately giving up an easy dunk to High Point's game breaker John Brown.

I like Ron Patterson. He's got a good mentality for the game and seems to put himself in good position to do damage. His defense is a work in process, but his shot continues to improve. In practice, they say he will either go 14-15, or 2-15, but either way he's going to take 15 shots. The more playmakers this team has, the better.

*Other Juice*

This was the worst officiated games so far this year. Not in the sense that close calls went against us, but rather several blatant misses that impacted the game, both ways. As Syracuse started to build momentum in the first half, High Point threw up a two pointer that was CLEARLY after the shot clock expired. Not only did they count the basket, but they gave them 3 points for five minutes until the next TV time out, changing the complexion of the game.

Then there was an out-of-bounds call that the official called for High Point while their player was still bobbling the ball out. And finally, after the Jerami Grant Injury Fiasco, the officals called a turnover out-of-bounds on High Point on a ball that Gbinije had clearly poked out of his hands, sealing the game for the Orange. I'll always have gripes about officiating, I just wish it hadn't impacted the game so directly.

This should have been the last easy dust-up before Conference Play, but it turned into a much more heated affair. Syracuse met it's worst enemy, in a slow offense that got lucky from three point range.

If you didn't see this game, that probably means you didn't have the patience to sit through ESPN3's rough coverage, with Reggie 'I have notecards with 5 bullet points' Witherspoon, and the same three commercials 20 times.

The Villanova Game next Saturday looms large, and stands to be the biggest challenge if the Orange want to enter conference play without a loss.

A win is a win, and this one's in the books. Until next time fellow Orange fans. Let's! Go! S! U!!

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