New rules, same game: SU learns to adapt to stringier fouls in win over Fordham

The Orange came away with the victory, but committed 25 personal fouls. New NCAA rules regarding contact are being enforced this season, causing the Orange to adjust its game.

There are lessons learned from every game, said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. In the Orange’s 89-74 win over Fordham, it was dealing with the NCAA’s new rules regarding fouls.

“If they’re going to call fouls, you’ve got to be able to play without fouling,” Boeheim said.

Photo: Shawn Miller
C.J. Fair drives for a layup late in the second half of Syracuse's 89-74 victory over Fordham Tuesday night. Fair finished the game with a career-high 26 points.

A total of 55 personal fouls were called in Tuesday night’s match-up, allowing both the No. 9/7 Orange and the Rams to rack up points from the free throw line. But the lesson, as Boeheim said, is to learn to play the same game despite the new rules. Last season, players were allowed a little leeway in terms of contact. But now, Boeheim said if someone is driving to the lane, there’s a 90 percent chance a foul will be called.

Senior forward C.J. Fair agreed that learning to adjust to the new rules that referees are calling was the biggest takeaway from the victory. Fair only committed two personal fouls himself, but was the recipient of seven free throw attempts, all of which he converted.

“Offensively, it works in my favor,” Fair said. “If you’re an aggressive driver and you know how to drive, it can work in your favor.”

Despite the increase in fouls, the Orange (2-0) still cruised to an easy victory over Fordham (1-1). Four players scored 10 or more points, including Fair, who finished with a career-high 26 points. Sophomore forward Jerami Grant, who made his season debut after a one-game absence, also scored 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.

“He’s a big part of our team,” guard Tyler Ennis said of Grant. “Whenever you take a big part a team out of the equation, you miss him.”

The Orange had its way in the first half, playing stout defense and efficient offense from the opening whistle. It was an exercise in a lesson learned after Cornell victory Friday, where Syracuse saw itself down six points at the half. This was not the case Tuesday, as the Orange went into half with a commanding 46-21 lead.

Syracuse felt it controlled the game in the second half, Boeheim said, and that’s when Fordham built a small comeback. With 3:33 left in the game, the Rams cut the SU lead to 78-66 after going on a 14-3 run that spanned five minutes. But the Orange defense responded, holding Fordham to eight points in the final three minutes.

“In the second, I think we felt were in control of the game, we lost our defensive edge, and they took advantage of it,” Boeheim said. “That’s something that we obviously need to work on.”

The Rams actually outscored the Orange in the second half, 53-43, but by then, the damage had already been done, and Syracuse locked in its second win of the year.

Syracuse remains at home for its next game against Colgate Nov. 16.

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