Syracuse Press Crushes Binghamton 93-65

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off their nationally-televised whooping of Indiana, the Syracuse Orange welcomed the Binghamton Bearcats to the Carrier Dome for a comparatively low-key affair.

The game was never really in doubt from the opening tip, and the Orange rode a season-high 54 first half points to a 93-65 victory over their upstate rivals. They improve to 9-0 on the season and have a week off before they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s next Sunday.

Here is my report card from courtside Saturday night:

Head of the Class

Trevor Cooney: I think the best compliment I can give Cooney is that this is starting to become old hat. Cooney had another impressive shooting performance, going 6-12 from the field and 5-9 from three on his way to 17 points. He also provided some tough perimeter defense, grabbing four steals and generally being a pest all night.

After the game, Cooney was his usual modest self when asked about his improved shooting this season. He gave credit to his fellow Oranges, saying “When your teammates find you and set good screens for you, it makes your life easier.” He added “I was just finding open spots. They were in the 2-3 zone, obviously, and I was able to set myself and get good looks.”

Cooney is now shooting 47.3% 48.4% on the season from three (26-55 31-64) and already has more triples this season than he did all of last year (28) in nearly half as many attempts as last year (105). That’s called hard work, folks.

Passing Grades

Press Defense: SU employed the press defense for an extended period of time tonight, and took advantage of their size and athleticism to harass Binghamton into 17 turnovers. 12 of those TOs came directly from steals, and the Orange blocked six Bearcat shots that actually got near the backboard.

“You get exposed when you play against that kind of length,” said second-year Binghamton coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team fell to 2-7. “It (SU’s press) changed the complexion of the game for sure. After that run, we were chasing for the rest of the game.”

Binghamton actually led 11-3 at one point early in the first half. Tyler Ennis went to the bench with two fouls (more on that later), and when Jim Boeheim used Cooney, Michael Gbinije, Jerami Grant, Baye Keita, and C.J. Fair on the full-court press the Orange outscored the Bearcats 51-19 the rest of the half.

“We came out flat, and the press really helped to jumpstart us,” said Cooney. “We were able to get them in tough spots and turn them over.” Boeheim added that his team had a “Good effort in our full court defense,” though he mentioned that they have to do a better job tracking down loose balls.

Dajuan Coleman: Coleman continues his up and down season with another solid effort, tallying his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. Most of his bench time was because of Boeheim’s use of the press, of which Keita and Rakeem Christmas are more suited due to their greater quickness. Coleman did most of his damage on the offensive glass, with six of his ten rebounds coming on that end. He turned those boards into easy layups and dunks around the rim, shooting an ultra-efficient 5-6 from the floor and 3-4 from the line.

Boeheim didn’t have much to say when asked about Coleman’s production after the game, offering only that the sophomore is a “work in progress.” So there’s that. I continue to think that Dajuan’s playing time will be directly tied to his defense and rebounding, and any offense he adds is gravy. So if you see Coleman in the game for more than just the normal starting cameo, you have to figure Boeheim is happy with the effort. That or Christmas and Keita are on their deathbeds. Could be either.

Stay After School

Tyler Ennis: Ah, freshmen. After a couple of weeks of being anointed the best point guard since Jesus (who you KNOW could ball), Ennis came back to Earth with a pedestrian output by his recent lofty standards. He contributed only 3 points on 1-2 from the field, and had more fouls than points with 4. He also only had 3 assists. Now these stats are largely because he spent most of the night glued to the bench in foul trouble (19 minutes total, a season-low), and when the Gbinije-Cooney backcourt clicked so well in the first half Boeheim had little reason to put Ennis back in.

But that’s going to happen. Ennis has a grand total of nine games under his belt, so there are bound to be a couple of stinkers. Hell, he only had two points against St. Francis and one versus Cornell, so this wasn’t even his worst scoring night of the season. But who was thinking “Good thing they have Michael Gbinije” in the preseason? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Final Grade: B+

This was pretty much a glorified exhibition, but that’s okay. After a couple of weeks of high-profile games versus top-notch competition, it isn’t a bad thing for the Orange to get an easy one. Binghamton was clearly outmatched in just about every category, but it was nice to see Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson (14 minutes, 6 points, 5 rebounds, fouled out), and B.J. Johnson (14 minutes, 0-5, three rebounds) get extended burn after not seeing much more than a cameo in a couple of weeks.

Patterson was especially entertaining and intriguing. The guy is a human pinball on offense, throwing himself around the lane against bigger opponents and generally doing the hustle things a good team needs to win. He also likes to shoot. A LOT. He ended up with 10 points in 15 minutes, but it took him 12 shots to get there. He also had four rebounds, and a couple of eyebrow-raising possessions that I tweeted like this:

I think SU fans are going to love this guy once he gets into the regular rotation. He’s like a guard version of Paul Harris, but more likeable somehow. How much fun will he be to watch for 20 minutes a night?

For a more detailed recap of the game and Boeheim’s post-game news conference, click on my Twitter timeline.

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