Sean O’Brien drew Syracuse’s zone up to the top again, if there was one thing the Orange couldn’t allow against a 3-5 Colgate team, it was allowing the three. Jim Boeheim has talked about it, teams love to shoot threes against SU, and the Raiders entered shooting 39 percent outside as a team.
Oshae Brissett shot up to grab O’Brien, leaving Jack Ferguson open for a bounce pass in the corner to set up his fifth three-pointer.
Colgate stuck within six-to-nine points through the second half, unloading on Syracuse’s defense with 14-of-35 three-point shooting. Some of Syracuse’s problems persisted; Frank Howard followed a rough showing vs. Connecticut with five more turnovers, Matthew Moyer played only eight minutes and Colgate’s transition/shooting pestered the Orange. Nonetheless Tyus Battle led a 72-58 win with 24 points.
Early in the first half Battle attacked the rim, Paschal Chukwu put back two offensive rebounds and Oshae Brissett got active in the same area to push a lead. Will Rayman hit a three-pointer from the wing on the run in transition, keeping the Raiders competitive.
Then the turnovers flowed for Syracuse, Howard tried to hit Chukwu over the top of the defense and watched his pass attempt fly out-of-bounds as he threw his arms up in frustration. HIs second half was stronger, with no giveaways.
The Orange held a steady eight point lead through much of the half, then Boeheim experimented with a lineup the team has not utilized yet this year, moving Howard Washington into the game with Marek Dolezaj in the middle and Battle, Howard and Brissett on the wing.
The floor quickly spread out for the final five minutes, Brissett secured the ball and unleashed monstrous dunk on the Colgate interior and propelled to a career day with 20 points through the second half.
Syracuse led 38-26 at half, Battle providing 15, including a dribble hand-off jumper from Dolezaj, a side-step elbow shot and a sweeping layup from the corner with the floor spread out.
The Raiders stormed back, closing in by as little as six points in the first four minutes of the second half. Until Brissett opened up his offense, joining Howard and Battle in double-figures shooting an efficient 50 percent through his first 10 looks. He poured in two more buckets inside from there, and hit five of seven from the free throw line.
Howard shined in the second half, working all the way back to 50 percent from the field hitting a few jumpers around the free throw area and posting 18 points, six rebounds and six assists by the end of the day.
The Orange improved to 8-1, Bourama Sidibe got a day off with nagging knee tendinitis and an ankle injury, and Syracuse now gets the entire week off for finals before their trip to Washington D.C. on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. game against the Hoyas.