Orange get best of Hoosiers for second straight time in 69-52 victory

Syracuse used a few big runs to pull away from Indiana in a rematch of last year's Sweet Sixteen game.

If it wasn’t known before it should be made official now: Syracuse-Indiana basketball is a true out-of-conference rivalry. In a rematch of last season’s Sweet Sixteen match-up, the two schools slugged it out in the early going in Tuesday night’s contest, but the Orange was able to pull away in the second half to secure a 69-52 victory.

No. 4 Syracuse (8-0) just came back from winning the EA Sports Maui Invitational on the other side of the country, so a lethargic start was expected. Head Coach Jim Boeheim knew this, but also praised his team’s defense.

“After the final buzzer in Maui, traditionally it's very hard for us to get our legs back,” he said. “Our defense, tonight, was the difference maker for the first time all season.”

Syracuse guard, C.J. Fair, drives to the basket in their 69-52 victory of Indiana. (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

The game seemed destined to be a runaway from the get-go as the Orange jumped out to an early 10-0 lead thanks to the hot hand of Trevor Cooney, who scored six points during the span. A mix of inconsistency and an inability to finish inside stalled the Orange offense, allowing Indiana (6-2) to chip away at the lead with consistent points in the paint. Even with a poor shooting start, the Hoosiers eventually narrowed the deficit to four before halftime. SU’s declining effort and Indiana’s athleticism were the key factors that kept the game close in the early going, Boeheim said.

“We knew they were trying to get it inside and we got back and took it away a couple of times on interior passes,” Boeheim said. “We were just able to get back in there and give some help, which we usually don’t help that much down inside.”

The strategy worked. The Orange collectively clogged the paint and forced the Hoosiers to beat SU from the outside, which Indiana was unable to do with much efficiency. The Hoosiers shot 36.6 percent from the field and were only converted on 28.6 percent of its three-pointers. This allowed the SU guards to pressure Indiana’s backcourt, forcing 10 steals.

Syracuse center, Baye Moussa Keita, defends against Indiana center, Luke Fischer.  (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

“We just did a good job of packing the paint,” forward Michael Gbinije said. “We had better ball pressure and took better angles in the second half. That helps put the post players in a tougher position to make a play.”

Early in the second half the Orange was clutching to a 35-33 lead when Cooney made a key steal to give the Orange the ball. Freshman guard Tyler Ennis found Cooney from beyond the arc, and the sophomore buried the three-pointer, giving SU a five-point lead and a spark ignited a 25-5 run.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself now,” Cooney said. “When you have that it just skyrockets and I just hope it keeps going.”

Cooney finished the game with five three-pointers, 21 points and four steals, all team-highs. His ability to get open and drain open looks gave the Orange the jolt of offense that helped keep it afloat even when the offense was a bit stagnant.

Indiana coach, Tom Crean, argues with the officials over the flagrant foul called on Austin Etherington after he fouled Syracuse guard, Trevor Cooney during a fast break. (Photo: Taylor Baucom)

But Cooney’s night nearly ended early after Indiana’s Austin Etherington hit him hard from behind on a fast break. Cooney fell to the floor, but was able to regain his composure to nail the two free throws. Officials called a flagrant two foul on Etherington and ejected him from the game.

“From what I know he was just making a play on the ball,” Cooney said.

Ennis and C.J. Fair also had positive contributions across the board. Ennis finished with 17 points, eight assists and four steals, while Fair scored 15 points and added four rebounds.

The Orange will return to the Carrier Dome Saturday to play Binghamton. 


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