Ooof. It has been a long time since the Syracuse Orange men's basketball fans witnessed an early, regular season defeat like Thursday night's 73-59 loss to the California Golden Bears at Madison Square Garden.
The Orange (2-1) did not do much right in a situation that more recent teams, before them, made look easy. The result will be a Friday night meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2K Classic Tournament consolation game. Iowa (2-1) lost to the No. 10 Texas Longhorns, 71-57, before SU looked like a team that needs a lot of growing.
The positive? Freshman forward Chris McCullough combined to score 12 points and collect six rebounds. After that, not much else. (Freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph and Michael Gbinije, somehow, led the team with 13 points each.)
SU turned the ball over 12 times, eight times in the second half, and shot just 37.1% from the floor. Though, the shooting was more dismal than that.
Cal (3-0) was paced by sophomore guard Jordan Mathews's 22 points and a solid 3-point shooting effort, which featured the Bears making 8 of 19 from long range to earn help earn the program's first ever victory over SU. Backcourt-mate Jabari Bird netted 16 points thanks to knocking down four of his five long-range shots.
Overall, The Bears also made 26 of their 55 field goals (47.3%).
After this one, Syracuse fans will talk about growing pains. This was one of them and there will be a few more to come. Welcome to the new norm.
Right now, kick back and talk about the loss. A more detailed recap of the game will come Friday morning.