Syracuse Orange fight off College of Saint Rose 87-69 in preseason finale

Men's basketball team gears up for the regular season with a victory over Saint Rose in their final exhibition game, 87-69.

Despite an obvious edge in talent, Syracuse went into the half of its final exhibition game tied before finally putting away Saint Rose, 87-69. 

The Orange opened the game on a 19-6 run in which they spread the ball around evenly, with six different players scoring. Senior point guard Scoop Jardine led the offensive barrage by scoring five points and nabbing two steals. Jardine finished the night with a pedestrian seven points and three assists, but showed that aggressiveness fans have become accustomed to with five steals.

Photo: Bobby Yarbrough
Brandon Reese drives to the basket in the second half against the College of Saint Rose Tuesday. The Orange scored 57 points in the second half to beat the Golden Knights, 87-69.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as the Golden Knights stormed back to tie it at 30 going into the locker room. Quality three-point shooting (4-7) and nine Syracuse turnovers fueled Saint Rose’s comeback. The Orange also had a few issues guarding their perimeter shooters, especially on those three point attempts when much of the time Saint Rose shooters found themselves completely wide open.

“We didn’t play the way we have to play,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said, in regards to the end of the first half.

Saint Rose played just the way he expected them to, Boeheim said. He added that when you play a smaller team, they tend to spread you out and get your big men away from the basket, which caused some problems on the rebounding end and put them back in the game. Syracuse lost the rebounding battle 38-33.

“We obviously have to do a better job rebounding,” Boeheim said. The coach did stress that this isn’t a major concern going forward since few Big East teams have a style of play similar to Saint Rose’s.

The second half started with the two squads trading baskets before freshman guard Michael Carter-Williams showed what he could provide to this team coming off the bench.

Carter-Williams drained three shots from beyond the arc and provided two assists, as well as a steal that led to a breakaway lay-up by senior forward Kris Joseph during an eight minute stretch that began with just under 15 minutes left in the game. Carter-Williams' play ignited a 27-12 run that essentially put the game out of reach at 70-54.

“I was definitely feeling it,” Carter Williams said. “I felt a lot more comfortable than the last game.” 

The freshman phenom missed both of his three point attempts during Syracuse’s first exhibition game against Cal-State Los Angeles.

Joseph, who led the Orange in scoring with 12 points, was very happy to see the freshmen, specifically Carter-Williams, pick up their play.

“He played great tonight,” Joseph said. “He kept the defensive pressure on.”

Carter-Williams’s 12 minutes, which primarily entailed being the floor general while Jardine sat on the bench, included 11 points, three assists, two steals and one block.

“I definitely think I’ve improved a lot since I got to campus,” Carter-Williams concluded, when asked about his growth so far and how it led to a performance like Tuesday night’s game. 

“Last game he was just really nervous,” junior guard Brandon Triche added, laughing. “He was being patient. He slowed down.”

Triche contributed seven points and two assists of his own.

As for the other freshman on the team, Boeheim once again gave forward Rakeem Christmas the starting nod. Christmas did have three turnovers in his 14 minutes of play, but put seven points on the board as well. First-year guard Trevor Cooney didn’t see as much playing time as Christmas or Carter-Williams, but he hit one of this two shot attempts from deep.

“I think they’re good,” Boeheim said of the play of his freshmen. “I think they know what they’re doing.”

In a game characterized by numerous runs from both teams, it was Syracuse’s second half push that proved to be the key. The Orange forced 27 turnovers in the game, with most coming in second half. They scored 38 points on Golden Knight miscues.

Syracuse also proved many of the preseason prognosticators and those in and around the team right by showing off its overall depth. Fourteen different players scored, with nine of them seeing at least 12 minutes out on the floor.

Although the first half perhaps showed that the Orange still have some work to do on defense, Boeheim reminded everyone that much of it had to do with how much more man defense they played than they usually do.

“You don’t want to draw too many conclusions from a game like this,” he said.

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