Without a signature win to its credit, SU is hoping for a strong push during conference play to bolster its tournament chances.
Since the Orange’s opening victory against Kennesaw State on Nov. 14, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has repeatedly said his team has the potential and talent to win any game. All it needed was time, both for key underclassmen to find an offensive flow and the team’s confidence to return to a level not seen since last season’s 25-game winning streak.
But as the Orange’s second slate of Atlantic Coast Conference games began Saturday at Virginia Tech, that time officially ran out.
A disastrous turnover in the closing seconds gives the Wildcats an opening to capitalize.
After his final shot attempt bounced off the rim and onto the floor, Trevor Cooney looked toward the Syracuse bench and tried to cleanse his body of all frustration with a forceful F-bomb.
It was the vexation of making the right plays for more than 39 minutes and being on the verge of a statement victory over a ranked opponent, only to see it slip away in the final 17 seconds of regulation time.
As senior center Rakeem Christmas and freshman forward Chris McCullough struggled to stay out of foul trouble against Louisiana Tech, the much-maligned Cooney and Roberson sparked Syracuse (6-3) to a 71-69 win over the visiting Bulldogs that ended the Orange’s two-game non-conference losing streak.
Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough shine as perimeter shooting continues to fail SU.
Syracuse stormed to a post-Thanksgiving win Friday night, defeating Holy Cross, 72-48, in front of 19,167 fans at the Carrier Dome. Senior Rakeem Christmas and his younger counterpart, freshman Chris McCullough, collectively scored 39 points.
As has been the case so far in 2014, the Orange struggled from the perimeter and did much of its damage (42 points) in the paint.
A late defensive stand helps SU rebound from loss to California.
The athleticism and scoring ability of lanky 6-foot-9-inch freshman Chris McCullough late in the second half gave Syracuse the extra push it needed to outlast the Iowa Hawkeyes, 66-63, on Friday at the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.
McCullough and senior Rakeem Christmas led the team with 20 and 18 points, respectively.
“At the end of the game, Chris made a great steal,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He just made a great play. That was the game...if he didn’t come across and get that one, then we don’t win.”
Strong performance in paint sparks the SU offense in easy victory.
Syracuse forward Michael Gbinije drained a jumper and drew a foul with only two seconds left on the shot clock late in the second half to give the No. 23 Orange a 13-point lead over the Hampton Pirates.
The 22,848 fans at the Carrier Dome erupted, but it was one of the few times during Sunday’s game they were able to do so.
Despite poor shooting, the Orange cruised past Adrian in its final tuneup game.
As the second half began and the announced 7,680 fans rose to their feet, No. 23 Syracuse was nursing an unexpectedly low 13-point lead over D-III Adrian. Still, it was right on the doorstep of breaking the game open
Twelve minutes later, it had busted the door off its hinges.
Behind an impressive 23-0 run to begin the latter period, the Orange rolled to an easy 84-35 victory over the Bulldogs at the Carrier Dome on Monday night in its final exhibition contest of the preseason.
SU mounts a second-half comeback as new offensive weapons emerge.
After a disappointing conclusion to a once-promising 2013-2014 campaign, standout performances by two of No. 24 Syracuse’s marquee freshmen gave Orange fans plenty of reason to celebrate again Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome.
SU trailed by double digits early on, but seized momentum in the second half behind the play of Kaleb Joseph and fellow frosh Chris McCullough en route to a hard-fought 76-68 victory over Carleton.