For a half there, all of the fears that Syracuse fans know well were bubbling up to the surface. Cornell was hitting shots. The Orange looked a little sluggish. The little guys were hanging with us. It was the recipe for a 2nd-half disaster.
But that was how some previous incarnation of Syracuse basketball would have handled it. This squad buckled down, remembered some of that smothering defense that worked so well for them in previous games and slowly but surely pulled away for a 88-73 victory to move to 5-0.
Brandon Triche ended with 21 points and Andy Rautins hit five three-pointers on his way to an 18-point night, helping No. 10 Syracuse to an 88-73 victory over Cornell at the Carrier Dome.
Wes Johnson filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, while Kris Joseph chipped in 13 points for Syracuse, which went from unranked to No. 10 in the nation after impressive wins over California and North Carolina last week.
"We couldn't win two big games and come here and lose to Cornell," Joseph said. "We couldn't let that happen. That was on our mind as well, just coming out and staying focused."
Noted, KrisJo. But all due respect to the Big Red, they certainly got our attention. It was Chris Wroblewski, not Ryan Wittman, who took control early in the game. He hit five 3's in the first half en route to 20 points on the night. Overall, Cornell took 19 shots from the 3-point line, making nine. Unlike Cal, The Big Red made their three's all night and put on the best shooting performance the Orange have faced all season. That SU won by 15 speaks volumes to that.
The Orange have made a habit in this young season of coming out in the 2nd half and putting the clamp down on opponents. Whatever was working for Cornell in the first half...well, it ceased to exist once the 2nd half started.
Once the second half began, Syracuse had enough of their neighbors from the south in Ithaca making a game of this. The defense got a lot tighter and SU went on a 21-6 run to open the half. Cornell went from a "fire burning on the dance floor" to the Elaine Benis Dance. The Big Red made only 4 of its 18 attempts from 3-point range the rest of the game.
Taking a cue from his football counterpart, Jim Boeheim was pleased with the 2nd half effort:
"I think our guys did a tremendous job, particularly the start of the second half adjusting defensively," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "We got to their shooters the first eight or 10 minutes."
The star of the night was freshman Brandon Triche. The youngster showed some of that budding leadership quality we're expecting from him, as well as a nice shooting touch.
Triche had the best game of his collegiate career in No. 10 Syracuse's 88-73 win over Cornell Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome. The freshman from Jamesville scored a career- and team-high 21 points in 31 minutes of action. Triche is now averaging 12.2 points per game.
"Every game I try to get better and better," Triche said. "Doing that is definitely going to help my confidence, and I know my ability and my coaches know my ability, so them talking to me a lot and giving my positive motivation."
Nice evening by Wes Johnson who, at least for one night, went from star player to stat sheet filler. Maybe he's both at the same time?
How about your star turned glue guy. Hello Wes Johnson, you got that right? Wes’ 10 boards, 4 assists, 3 blocks were indicative of his all-around effort which is quite contagious.
The major subplot of the evening occurred towards the end of the 2nd half when Mookie Jones suddenly and angrily stormed off the bench and headed into the locker room. Axe has the play-by-play:
With about five minutes left, Jim Boeheim was bending down and talking to Mookie Jones on the bench. Boeheim walked away. Suddenly, Mookie threw his headband and stormed off to the locker room. SU director of player development Lazarus Sims and SU trainer Brad Pike went into the locker room after him. Mookie did return to the bench, but did not stick around for hand shakes with Cornell and was nowhere to be seen in the locker room after the game.
When Jim Boeheim was asked about what happened with Mookie, he responded "Nothing" and ended his press conference (to be fair, he did say "anything else?", but clearly the thing was over at that point).
Oh boy...raise your hand if you had Mookie Jones in the First-Player-To-Transfer Pool. Chances are, this is one of those "handled internally" situations and we'll probably never know what happened. Is it playing time? If so, hopefully Mookie can look big picture and see just how much time he has ahead of him. If it's Boeheim's surly demeanor, well, you knew all about that when you signed up. Though it didn't really seem like Jimmy was digging into Mookie before he walked off.
As Axe says, don't be surprised if Rautins and the rest of the upperclassmen haven't already sorted young Mookie out.
There were some issues (what was up with AO?) but for the most part it was a solid win this early in the season. The Orange actually shot 82% from the line and only committed 11 turnovers. Not too shabby. Syracuse gets a couple days off now before Columbia comes to the Dome on Friday. Then it's Colgate on Monday to complete the New York State Trifecta.
And a special Mazel Tov to Jim Boeheim who won game #804, tying him for 7th all-time with Eddie Sutton. Bobby Knight, here he comes...
Cornell at Syracuse Recap...Cuse Confidential
Syracuse - Cornell Observations...Three Idiots on Sports
#804 for Boeheim behind Balanced Scoring...OrangeHoops
Syracuse defeats Cornell 88-73 in the Carrier Dome. Freshman Brandon Triche adds a career best 21.
Jimmy B talks SU-Cornell
|Syracuse vs. Cornell basketball: Coach Jim Boeheim
Syracuse University basketball players Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche and Wes Johnson talk about the team beating Cornell
|Syracuse vs. Cornell basketball: Players Joseph, Triche and Johnson.
Cornell head coach Steve Donahue and Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim talk to reporters after Tuesday's 88-73 SU victory at the Carrier Dome.