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Report Card: Christmas nets Career-High as Syracuse Drops Cornell

In the final non-conference tuneup before ACC play starts Saturday, the Syracuse Orange hosted the Cornell Big Red for the 120th game since 1900. And, like 88 times before, the Orange came out with a win.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

This game was a heaping pile of stink from the tip. The score at the half was 23-12, and Cornell shot a scorching 20% from the field in the first 20 minutes, which was surpassed by SU’s whopping 37%. It was as ugly as it sounds.

However, a win is a win, and SU is now 9-4 heading into the conference schedule. Here is my report card of Wednesday’s contest from courtside:

Head of the Class: Rakeem Christmas

This is starting to be old hat. Rakeem turned in another solid performance, posting (literally and figuratively) 19 points on 9-12 from the field and 1-3 from the free throw line. According to SU Athletics, those 9 field goals were a career high for one game. He has become the undisputed hub of the offense, and when opponents single-cover him in the post he is damn near an automatic score or trip to the line. He did have 5 turnovers, which is troubling considering how often he is doubleteamed, but if he can tighten up that flaw he is going to be a load for defenses to handle the rest of the season.

Passing Grades

Trevor Cooney: After putting up 27 points on 7 threes last year vs. Cornell, Cooney’s 14 points on Wednesday (4-12 shooting) pale in comparison. But, I think his ability to get to the line (4-4), pass the ball (4 assists), and even hit the glass (4 rebounds) despite the poor shooting performance speak volumes about how versatile he can be and how well he has been playing lately.

Chris McCullough’s dunk: If you missed it, go watch it right now. We can discuss it when you get back.

Stay After School

Kaleb Joseph: Joseph had a nice game, dropping 8 points on (4-6 shooting). However, he only mustered 2 assists, and was yanked a couple of different times by Jim Boeheim in favor of Ron Patterson after he made some sort of mental defensive mistake. It’s kind of difficult to find a rhythm when you are shuffling in and out of the lineup, and it’s defense above all else that will keep Joseph on the court this year.

Final Grade: C+

A lackluster effort overall. I guess we can chalk it up to the holiday? Maybe? Hopefully?


- Christmas had his knee checked by SU trainer Brad Pike on the bench near the end of the game, but didn't think it was a big deal. He said he had banged knees with a Cornell player.

- Walk-on guard Christian White received the loudest reaction of the evening when he drained a long three-pointer with a few seconds left in the game. That guy is going to be a folk hero if he ever gets some meaningful playing time.

- In garbage time there were four walk-ons on the floor… and B.J. Johnson. That’s all I’m going to say.

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