The top seeded Syracuse men’s basketball team (19-14) beat UNC Greensboro, 90-77, in the first round of the NIT Tournament on Wednesday. Syracuse was in control from the start, taking a quick 7-2 lead and not looking back.
The Orange showed little hangover from missing the NCAA tournament in its play and controlled the first half and most of the game. White continued his hot first half start, going 7-10 from the field and 4-5 from the 3-point range to lead all scorers with 19 points in the first half. Tyus Battle also got in on the action with a couple of slick fade away jumpers to add eight points. Syracuse had one of its best shooting halves of the season, shooting 64 percent (18-24) from the field in the first half and 60 percent (6-10) from behind the arc. Syracuse outrebounded UNC Greensboro, 19-8, and took a 47-37 lead at the end of the half.
White continued where he left off in the first half, draining a three to give him 22 points early in the 2nd half. However, Battle took over in the early part of the second half, scoring 12 of his twenty points, extending Syracuse’s lead. Battle has noticeably improved as the season progressed, taking over a starting spot midway through the year and flourishing with the chance.
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was quick to praise the freshman for his improvement in all areas of the game throughout the season. Boeheim said he felt that if Battle had not gotten sick for a three-game stretch against Pittsburgh, Louisville and Georgia Tech in the middle of the season, he would have elevated his play even more.
“That hurt, that set him back. But other than that, exclude those three games he’s probably averaging close to 16-18 points per game,” Boeheim said. “He’s played really well, his defense has gotten better, he’s taking the ball to the basket and he’s really playing well.”
Even with the great night from Battle, White commanded the show, scoring 34 points on 11 of 15 shooting, including seven 3-pointers. White’s 108th triple broke the school record for 3-pointers in a season set by Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara, a who won an NCAA Championship with SU as a freshman in 2003.
“There’s no other person that I would want to beat for that record then coach G-Mac (Gerry McNamara) just because he is here on our staff,” White said. “He’s a young guy and he did it here and that’s huge.”
For White, having the opportunity to break his coach's record was a humbling experience, particularly because of the special relationship the two have.
“He and I are tight,” White said. “I look at him more as an equal then a coach just because he is a young guy and he never talks down to us, he’s always in there with us and I just respect him a lot as a man and as a coach and as a mentor to me.”
Syracuse will take on Ole Miss in the second round of the NIT on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Carrier Dome.