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Syracuse 72 - Holy Cross 48: Five Takeaways From Orange Win Over Crusaders

So, what did last night tell us about the Orange?

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange improved to 5-1 with a win over the Holy Cross Crusaders last night. Here are five takeaways from the win:

1. The front court shows (again) that it's this team's strength.

Big men Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough have been consistently wreaking havoc in the paint this season, and last night may have been the tandem's best performance to date. Christmas went 8-of-10, scored 25 points, had eight rebounds, and blocked three shots; McCullough went 7-of-11, tallied 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and blocked two shots. Syracuse has been struggling to score from the perimeter (more on that later), but Rak and McCullough proved once again on Friday that, for now, they're plenty capable of carrying the load.

2. Kaleb might be starting to figure it out.

During Syracuse's trip to New York City and Madison Square Garden last week for the 2K Classic, Kaleb Joseph looked every bit like the freshman that he is. In two games, he turned the ball over eight times and took a number of poorly-selected shots. And while he did have four more turnovers last night, he also recorded six assists and had season-highs of 14 points and seven rebounds. As evidenced by the four turnovers, it wasn't perfect -- but it was progress. For now, that's good enough.

3. These guys are still struggling (REALLY struggling) to score from outside.

The Orange went 0-of-14 from three on Friday and are now 9-of-58 from downtown in the last four games. At some point, Syracuse will need to get at least some scoring from outside. The only problem, of course, is that we don't have any reason to believe that there's a player on this roster capable of being that scorer. Trevor Cooney missed all four of his three-point attempts last night, and Michael Gbinije missed all three of his. Ron Patterson hasn't shown much of anything since the first exhibition against Carleton, and B.J. Johnson has struggled with his shot since the season-opener with Kennesaw State. So, we'll see. Hopefully someone gets hot.

4. Syracuse doesn't fare well against the full court press.

For the second time this season, the Orange had trouble last night with a full court press in the second half. The first time they faced a full court press came last Friday against Iowa, when the Hawkeyes' press forced Syracuse into 10 second half turnovers and trimmed a 15-point Orange lead to just one late in the second half. On Friday, Syracuse had issues solving Holy Cross's full court press and watched its 22-point halftime lead be reduced to just 11 before ultimately pulling away. Boeheim, let's clean that up.

5. We should now feel a little better about this group.

Against a Holy Cross team that came in undefeated and that had previously beaten Harvard, I liked what I saw last night. Aside from the Crusaders' run to start the second half, the Orange were in control throughout. They held a team that had scored 101 points its last time out to just 48 points and to just 26.8 percent shooting; they outrebounded the Crusaders 50-29; and they managed to score 72 points despite attempting and missing 14 three-pointers. Was it perfect? No. But was it significantly better than what we witnessed against Loyola on Tuesday? Yeah, I'd like to think it was. Bring on Michigan!