Men's basketball: Orange staves off pesky Iowa in 2K Classic

A late defensive stand helps SU rebound from loss to California.

The athleticism and scoring ability of lanky 6-foot-9-inch freshman Chris McCullough late in the second half gave Syracuse the extra push it needed to outlast the Iowa Hawkeyes, 66-63, on Friday at the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. 

McCullough and senior Rakeem Christmas led the team with 20 and 18 points, respectively. 

“At the end of the game, Chris made a great steal,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He just made a great play. That was the game...if he didn’t come across and get that one, then we don’t win.” 

Close Call 

The Orange led by 14 points with 8:36 left in the second half before Iowa (2-2) began to make a comeback. 

SU (3-1) didn’t score its next point for another three minutes, until McCullough made two free throws. By that point, the score was 59-51 in favor of SU. 

Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff scored two from the line after being fouled by Tyler Roberson to cut the lead to six with 5:07 left. 

Less than a minute later, Iowa drained a three, cutting SU’s lead in half. Then with 3:39 on the clock, a Trevor Cooney turnover turned into a dunk by Iowa’s Aaron White. 

The teams then traded baskets until the final moments. But with only 10 seconds left in the game, McCullough made the aforementioned steal and drew a game-clinching foul. McCullough was good on both free throw attempts, making the score 65-62 with eight seconds to go. 

Looking Ahead 

The Orange’s win against the Hawkeyes earned a third-place finish at the tournament. 

SU faces Loyola in its next game, at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday. Boeheim said the team has a lot of work to do offensively during the next month before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins. 

“This game certainly helped us. We made a couple of plays at the end after making a few bad plays before that,” Boeheim said. “We just need time to get better. I think we can do that. It’s a lot of work to be done.”

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