SU Basketball v Southern Connecticut

A Tale of Two Halves as Syracuse win big in final exhibition game

The Orange trailed a majority of the first half, but quickly turned the game around.

In the final exhibition game of the season, Syracuse walked away with a 84-59 win over Division II Southern Connecticut State University. However, the outcome was far from guaranteed. 

Following a convincing 84-54 win in their exhibition opener, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim went with the same starting five.

The visiting Owls started the game off strong, hitting three of their first four three-pointers to grab a 11-0 lead. As Orange fans remained standing, an odd silence took over the Carrier Dome.

Photo: Deandre Curtis
Oshae Brissett and Howard Washington

"We made bad mistakes offensively," Coach Boeheim said.

These bad mistakes came in many different ways. Turnovers came quick and fast for the home team through sloppy passes or miscommunications. A missed three from Geno Thorpe saw the ball land in hands, but by the time he realized the position he was in a few feet from the hoop, the ball was stripped.

Multiple times in the first half the Orange players seemed surprised to be receiving the ball. Thorpe drove down on a fast break and Matthew Moyer spread the court waiting for the ball. As Thorpe went up, his shot was blocked and seconds later Jerry Luckett Jr. was able to dunk it home.

Syracuse started the game missing their first nine three-point shots until sophomore guard Tyus Battle drained one after a few friendly bounces. Little by little, Syracuse crawled back in this game. While the full court press didn’t find the same success in this exhibition game, Boeheim kept trying to instill it on the court.

The Orange clawed back to a 29-24 deficit, however, an elbow three pointer from freshman Oshae Brissett got Syracuse off to a good start to start the second half.

"We turned it around in the second half," Brissett said.

Chukwu got an early offensive rebound, which led to junior guard Frank Howard draining a 3-pointer. A minute later, he stripped the ball and pulled up a strong layup as Syracuse grabbed its first lead of the game almost 22 minutes in.

Chukwu's rhythm continued, meeting junior forward Luke Beesley at the rim. If the first half was quiet in the Dome, the second half had a much different atmosphere following that block. When Chukwu wasn’t on the court, freshman Bourama Sidibe stepped in, grabbing 12 rebounds and five blocks.

"We're set on our centers," Coach Boeheim said when referring to Chukwu and Sidibe.

Freshman forward Marek Dolezaj struggled offensively to start, not hitting any of his three-point attempts. However, he was a menace on the full court press in the second half, leading the Owls to call unnecessary timeouts and turnovers.

There were more memorable plays that went in Syracuse’s favor in the second half. Brissett stole the ball along mid court, and found Howard Washington cross court. With a drive to his left, his floater sank through the net for the guard’s first points of the game.

Moyer spent most of the first half switching between the court and the bench, but recorded all eight of his points in the second half. He grabbed his sole offensive rebound off the glass and softly touched it home. He received a pass from Thorpe and slammed it home, hanging on the rim a second as the Dome filled with noise.

"We just had more flow in the second half. Our shots started to go in," Moyer said.

Thorpe, who transferred from the University of Southern Florida, came off the bench to score six points and four assists.

In the final two minutes, Boeheim allowed Syracuse's walk-ons some playing time. Redshirt junior Braedon Bayer grabbed a defensive board, drew the Owls defense on him and served fellow junior Ky Feldman a perfect pass. Without hesitation, Feldman’s show hit nothing but net on its way in the hoop.

Syracuse opens its regular season on Friday welcoming in-state rival Cornell to the Carrier Dome.

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