Orange turn on offense in second half to take down Colgate
Orange take down Colgate
Both teams entered the game with a whimper, but ‘Cuse took the cake when it came to early struggles. Whether they were early season cobwebs or genuine errors, the Orange had several troublesome issues early in the competition. None were more evident than the trouble experienced by Jalen Carey.
Carey started the game, but it quickly became evident that that status was coming into question. Missing three shots, one of which was a free throw, losing several rebounds and giving up the ball twice, he was benched after only five minutes of play. When asked about why Carey was removed from the game, Coach Boeheim, ever a wordsmith, emphasized that anyone who watched that game wouldn’t need to ask such a question. Carey would not return to the court.
It took six minutes of play for the Orange crowd to take a seat, when Bourama Sidibe, an early season standout, nailed a layup after a few good defensive plays. Sidibe continued to be a sparkplug for the Orange for the remainder of the game, and defense proved to be the key to winning the game, with both teams playing a feisty brand of basketball.
The battle down low was the centerpiece of the matchup, with Sidibe and Marek Dolezaj doing battle with Colgate’s Rapolas Ivanauskas and Will Rayman. Things were chippy, but the better positioning of the Orange big men allowed them to escape the first half with seven fouls on each team victorious. Perhaps more surprising, Buddy Boeheim got involved in the paint more than we’ve seen in the past few weeks, trying for several risky failed layup attempts. Those failures were soon to vanish from the Orange offense altogether.
Buddy showed his ability to nail threes, and the aggressiveness of Sidibe, Elijah Hughes and Dolezaj under the basket allowed him to nail two from downtown along with four long field goals. He led the team with ten points and got them their first lead of the game as they entered the half. He and the suddenly stellar Sidibe had led the team thus far while Syracuse led 31-25.
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The Orange maintained their momentum in the second half, and Dolezaj suddenly erupted with a spin move around the defense for a crushing dunk to set the tone for the second half. It was clear on the 6-foot-10 Slovakian’s face that they came to win, as a smile flashed as he hung from the basket. The larger Orange players showed up in a “big” way.
Joe Girard emerged in the second half and sank a three to give the ‘Cuse a ten-point lead. He wasn’t afraid of taking second-billing in the sequel when on the next play he lobbed a pass to the basket for Sidibe to throw down on the recoiling Raiders. Sidibe was finally showing what he can do moving forward, and he and Dolezaj proved a fearsome duo as they bodied up Ivanauskas multiple times.
It was their imposing presence as well as some all-in defense by Hughes that kept the Raiders scoreless for several long stretches. The squad of Buddy Boeheim, Joe Girard, Elijah Hughes, Marek Dolezaj, and Bourama Sidibe looked, felt and played like a starting five that could do some serious damage in the ACC.
Boeheim confirmed that they would be the starters moving forward, but with Syracuse maintaining a 20-point lead at one point, he subbed in the likes of Goodine, Washington, Guerrier, Braswell, and Edwards. They put up some more points, but their output was nowhere near the new wrecking crew. Boeheim was unconcerned, highlighting that only about seven players would get regular minutes.
As Colgate petered out Syracuse got some reps for their bench players. The game crawled to a close with a final score of 70-54.
As we look ahead, Syracuse fans can rest easy knowing that for now, the Orange have a starting five with good defense and some power from the three-point arc. With the emergence of Dolezaj and Sidibe down low, the Orange seem to be capable of doing it all. While the first half may be concerning, it’s only November, and there’s a lot of basketball left to play.
The next time the Orange will take the court is Saturday against another .500 team, the Seattle Redhawks (2-2).