SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Freshman forward Chris Bell scored a career-high 17 points on Saturday, helping the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team to a win over Notre Dame with timely shooting down the stretch.
Bell, who has started every game this season for Jim Boeheim, eclipsed his previous high of 14 points against Bryant. He shot 6-9 from the floor and 5-8 from three against Notre Dame.
“I thought early that Chris looked good. He looked like he had a feel for it tonight,” Boeheim said after the game.
Bell connected on 3-4 from deep in the first half, but he also knocked down a pair of important threes in the second when Notre Dame went zone. A three after an offensive rebound got the game back to within two possessions with just under ten minutes to play as Syracuse made its come from behind run. Another Bell triple from the left wing gave the Orange its first lead of the second half with 3:20 to play.
“It feels good, you know? My shot still works,” Bell said of his performance with smile. “I was more happy that we got the win. I’m glad I had 17. It’s the first time ever.”
“That’s what he does. I see it in practice all the time. He can really shoot it,” Justin Taylor said of his teammate. “Today he really went off and helped us win the game. We definitely wouldn’t have won it without his shooting.”
Bell has been consistent shooting the ball this season, connecting on a team-best 40.3% from outside (excluding Symir Torrence’s 6-13 from three). He says the coaching staff has helped him keep faith in his ability.
“They believe in me more than I believe in myself so it’s kind of hard not to. Just trying to keep a consistent basis with being in the gym,” Bell stated.
Bell’s offense has been there all season. At various points, though, the Syracuse coaching staff has asked for more on the defensive end, particularly in the rebounding department. His head coach is complimentary of his shooting but says when he comes out of the game it’s usually for defensive miscues.
“He’s a great shooter, I really think that. He makes some defensive mistakes,” Boeheim declared. “When a guy is shooting a wide open three in the corner it’s usually the forward, they’re not moving properly. They made four of those. You come out for defensive mistakes more than offensive mistakes, but he can shoot the ball.”
Bell says he’s just tried to get better each day during the course of his freshman season. He’s tried to make progress daily by working hard in practice and being consistent.
“If I look at it as, ‘I can get better every day,’ I’m ok with that. Whether it’s rebounding, shooting, anything,” Bell stated.
Boeheim noted in Saturday’s post-game press conference that in the future he envisions Taylor sliding to the two and having Bell stay at the three.