Onuaku and Johnson lead SU to best start in 10 years

Not even the possibility of a hangover or the taste of warmth in Tampa could spoil the perfect start to the season for the Cuse.

Sunday afternoon’s matchup with St. Francis of New York could have been a classic trap game for Syracuse after its big win over No. 11 Florida on Thursday. But not even the possibility of a hangover or the taste of warmth in Tampa could spoil the perfect start to the season for the Cuse.

Arinze Onuaku scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the first half, and Wes Johnson opened the second half with back-to-back threes as the Orange overcame a slow start to defeat St. Francis 75-51 in the Carrier Dome. 

For the first ten minutes of the game, the Terriers held tough. Faced with a disadvantage in size and length, St. Francis relied on its outside shooting. An 11-2 run with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half saw three triples from the visitors, and they connected on six threes overall in the first half. This brought them to within one, 19-18, but it was as close as they would get for the rest of the game.

A full timeout by SU head coach Jim Boeheim seemed to wake up his team.

They responded by looking inside to Onuaku repeatedly following the timeout. He made five of his six field goals during this span and exploited the middle of the Terriers' 2-3 zone. Onuaku established his position quickly and easily on each posession, anchoring his 260 pound frame in the center of the lane and demanding the ball. 

The Orange closed the first half on a 19-7 run of their own to lead 38-26 at the break.

Syracuse got off to a fast start in the second period, scoring the first eight points of the half. This mini-run was highlighted by two threes by Wes Johnson from nearly the same spot on the left wing.

After this it was all defense for SU. The Terriers struggled to get open looks against the active 2-3 zone, and shot just 26.7 percent shooting from the field in the second half. This included 14 turnovers and only two field goals in the first 11 1/2 minutes.

The Syracuse starters played less than 12 minutes in the second half as the Orange cruised to a win. This is the first time Boeheim has started the year 10-0 since the 1999-2000 season when SU began the season 18-0.

Up next for the Orange: final exams. The team has a six day break before they take on St. Bonaventure next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Carrier Dome. Look for the team to move up in the rakings this week after defeating another top-15 team in Florida and No. 3 ESPN/USA Today Villanova’s loss to Temple on Sunday. 

Play of the game – Mookie Jones getting rid of the headband. 

After not having a field goal in the first half, Jones played without his traditional headband in the second. A wise move. Mookie nailed 3 threes in a span of four minutes and finished with 10 points in the game.

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