Here are five takeaways from the game:
That's what Roberson is capable of
Tyler Roberson put forth one of his more complete games yet Saturday, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He was particularly active on the offensive glass, coming down with eight offensive boards — which, on its own, would've tied Malachi Richardson for a game-high in rebounds.
But the highlight of Roberson's day came around the 9:45 mark of the second half, immediately following a Michael Gbinije steal. In transition, Roberson, who generally runs the floor pretty well, split between two Cornell defenders in the paint and threw down a ferocious dunk after receiving a pass from Gbinije.
For Roberson, Saturday was an especially positive note in a season that has thus far been mired in inconsistency, something he expects will change.
"I just haven't been able to put it all together yet," he said. "... But it's a long season and I know I'm going to put it together, it's just a matter of time."
Lydon just isn't going to shoot much, it appears
Tyler Lydon attempted just one 3-pointer on Saturday, drilling the long ball from the left corner. He's now shooting 51.7% from 3, but he still isn't taking many shots from long range. In fact, only once this season has he taken more than three 3-pointers in a single game, and he's attempted just 29 3-pointers in total.
Given (a) that Lydon has been so efficient when he has attempted 3s this season and (b) that Syracuse's other 3-point threats — save for Gbinije — haven't exactly lit the world on fire, it would seem to make sense that Syracuse should work to get the freshman more looks. I asked Lydon if he expects such an effort to be made moving forward.
"You know, I don't really know," he said. "I feel like everything is going well for us right now, so I don't think there's too much to change. I didn't take a couple shots that I probably could've taken tonight, so I think that also has a little something to do with it."
Gbinije becomes a distributor
From the start of Saturday's game onward, it was clear that the Big Red wanted to get the ball out of Michael Gbinije's hands and force Syracuse's other players to beat them. Cornell was often doubling Gbinije, especially following screens, something that freed up other SU players for scoring opportunities.
Gbinije, realizing that, took on more of a distributor's role than he has at any point this season, fully playing the part of point guard. And while his 12 points marked a season-low, he countered that with eight assists — a season-high.
"It's just the way the game was tonight," he said.
When asked if he expects more teams to defend him like that as the season progresses, Gbinije said he wasn't sure. But considering how effective he's been scoring the ball this season, it's likely that at least some teams will take after Cornell's approach, meaning that Saturday probably wasn't the last we'll see Gbinije in a pass-first mode.
Cooney is at his best when he's not creating for himself
Trevor Cooney connected on three 3-pointers in a roughly 6-minute span in the second half, helping Syracuse separate itself after Cornell managed to briefly grab the lead. Cooney was assisted on each of those made 3s, twice by Gbinije and once by Richardson.
Cooney's shot selection hasn't always been very good this season, and that's a big reason why he's still shooting only 33.6% from the field and just 32.5% from 3. But he's proven his reputation as a knockdown shooter to be true in catch-and-shoot situations. According to Hoop-Math, his made 3s are being assisted at an 88.5% clip, a higher rate than either Gbinije or Richardson.
For Cooney, the good news is that more of those catch-and-shoot opportunities are likely to present themselves in the near future. This ties back to teams focusing much of their attention on Gbinije; if they do, he'll find players like Cooney for open looks.
Against Cornell, Syracuse can have its way on the glass
Completely out of character, Syracuse dominated on the boards against Cornell, winning the rebounding battle, 48-27. In addition to Roberson's 12 rebounds, Richardson had eight, while Gbinije and Dajuan Coleman each had seven.
An optimist would say this was the turning point for the Orange, who have struggled to rebound this season. In reality, though, it doesn't take much to rebound against the Big Red, who, according to kenpom.com, are just the 286th tallest team in Division I in terms of average height. Cornell ranks 316th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and 297th in defensive rebounding percentage, per kenpom.com.
Unfortunately for SU, it isn't going to run into any teams in the ACC that are that bad on the glass.