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Syracuse 69 - Boston College 61: Five Big Takeaways

What did we learn last night?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange improved to 5-1 in ACC play on Tuesday, knocking off the Boston College Eagles 69-61 at the Carrier Dome. Here are five big takeaways:

1. At least against Boston College, Syracuse can win with Rakeem Christmas in foul trouble.

Plagued all game long by foul trouble, leading scorer Rakeem Christmas played only 23 minutes last night. Even without him, Syracuse survived. The big man still finished with 12 points, but his absence for long stretches required a total team effort from his teammates. Each of the other four starters scored in double figures, and backup center Chinoso Obokoh played a season-high 16 minutes, finishing with four rebounds and a block. The Orange might not be as fortunate the next time Christmas finds himself in foul trouble, but for at least one night, Jim Boeheim's group stood tough without its leader.

2. Michael Gbinije can be a go-to scorer.

Aside from Christmas, has any Syracuse player been more consistent than Michael Gbinije? Entering last night's game, he had scored at least 10 points in eight of the previous nine games. That trend continued on Tuesday, when Gbinije scored a team-high 17 points. He's shooting 50 percent from the field in the last 10 games, and as Boeheim has noted on multiple occasions, the junior's only issue is often his aggression. If Gbinije plays as aggressively as he did yesterday, he's capable of scoring 17 points every time out.

3. Kaleb Joseph looks much more comfortable.

Kaleb Joseph has come a long way since turning the ball over 38 times in the first 10 games of the season. In the last nine games, he's committed only 11 turnovers. And in the last seven games, he has a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He dished out a game-high seven assists on Tuesday, turning the ball over just once in the process. It's clear that Joseph has yet to completely garner the trust of Boeheim; the point guard watched from the bench down the stretch of close games against Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech. Still, if Syracuse wants to experience some success this season, consistent production from Joseph -- the team's only true point guard -- is crucial.

4. The Orange struggles to close out games.

The finish to last night's game surely inspired flashbacks to the Villanova and Virginia Tech games earlier this season. In those two contests, Syracuse squandered and nearly squandered comfortable leads in the final minutes. On Tuesday, the Orange held a 61-48 lead with two minutes left but struggled to put away the Eagles. SU went 8-of-16 on free throws in those last two minutes, allowing Boston College to hang around and hang around and hang around. It wasn't until Joseph made both of his free throws with 16 seconds left that the lead finally felt secure. Again, this is something Syracuse likely won't get away with as the ACC schedule gets more and more challenging.

5. Syracuse continues to take good care of the basketball.

On a more positive note, the Orange did commit only eight turnovers on Tuesday and has now turned the ball over nine times or fewer in each of the past four games. That's a pattern that Syracuse would love to see continue throughout the next two months. If SU can take care of the basketball, this team will be in most games.