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Three takeaways from Syracuse basketball’s 95-66 win over Oakland

Syracuse moved to 5-4 on the season after a home win over Oakland.

Oakland v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

If the previous five games proved to be difficult, the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team received a bit of a respite at home against the Oakland Grizzlies on Tuesday night. In what marked the beginning of a six-game homestand, Syracuse handled Oakland 95-66 as college basketball’s two longest tenured head coaches squared off.

The Syracuse seniors paced the offense once more as Jesse Edwards and Joe Girard got going early. Although Oakland was denying Edwards and made entry feeds difficult, Syracuse was still able to find him down low for easy buckets. The game was nip and tuck for the first 14 minutes, but Syracuse ended the half on an 18-0 run to take a 45-24 lead at the break as a Judah Mintz transition lay fell just before the halftime buzzer.

Syracuse pushed the lead to 30 early in the second half—and as much as 42—before Jim Boeheim turned to his bench. Oakland was never able to make it a game. All in all, five Orange players finished with double-figures and Syracuse out-rebounded Oakland 44-33. Syracuse had a season-high 27 assists on 42 made shots. The Orange won the battle in the paint 58-38.

To the takeaways...

Wait, what’s that? Chris Bell did what? To who? In spite of the fact that that man has a family?

Okay, to the takeaways.

It’s the Jesses and Joes

For the second straight game it was the Syracuse seniors who led the way offensively. Oakland isn’t on Notre Dame’s level, but like the Irish, the Grizzlies didn’t quite have anyone who could match up with Edwards. The senior center from the Netherlands was established early and he was able to score without much strife.

Girard, meantime, got going from the outside. He had 15 points (3-6 from three) and 5 assists at the half. Edwards scored a dozen in the first half on a perfect 6-6 shooting.

Holding a large lead in the second half, Boeheim sat his two seniors and turned to the bench. Edwards finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and two steals including 9-9 shooting. Girard also finished with 18 points (4-7 from deep) and six assists.

Syracuse is 5-0 when Girard scores more than 15 points.

Oakland v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Freshmen still growing; Brown shows up

The freshmen not named Mintz are still getting their sea legs under them.

Each had their moments in this game. Bell had the monster dunk. Justin Taylor has provided good minutes with his shooting and is proving himself as a capable rebounder. Quadir Copeland had a nice floater and a pair of steals but tried to do a little bit too much at times and turned it over. Perhaps that’s to be expected from young players trying to earn playing time. Peter Carey was the only freshman who didn’t see time.

Maliq Brown was steady, though and played his best game in a Syracuse uniform. The freshman finished with career-highs in points (12) and rebounds (seven). His previous high was seven points against Lehigh and four rebounds against Northeastern.

Growing pains are a feature, not a bug. Of course, nobody is looking past opponents with a struggling Syracuse squad. But with home games against Monmouth and Cornell after Georgetown, this should be an important stretch to get the freshmen involved before ACC play begins.

Everybody eats

This was the kind of game Syracuse needed after a tough stretch with two neutral court games and two road games with a home loss to Bryant sandwiched in between. Oakland is far from good, coming into the night ranked No. 307 in KenPom.

So Syracuse jumping out to a big lead is about as surprising as Jim Boeheim playing 2-3 zone. The aforementioned head coach let the bench play as 11 of the 12 scholarship players saw time. Edwards and Girard had their nights end early. Mintz and Brown joined the double-figure scoring crew along with Symir Torrence, who scored 12 points and dished out 5 assists in just 13 minutes. Benny Williams finished with nine points, six rebounds and six assists.

The bench saw extended run in the second and the walk-ons came in with over four minutes left. The non-scholarship players tried their best to join club trillion but let a few turnovers get in the way. Where’s Marek Dolezaj Paddy Casey when you need him?