Sweet revenge

After a shocking loss to Le Moyne a year ago, Syracuse showed the Dolphins who's boss in the Carrier Dome with a 91-48 win Tuesday night.

The Carrier Dome was filled with 10,546 fans hoping for some revenge Tuesday night after they witnessed a 79-82 defeat to a Division II school last season. The fans wound up witnessing a 91-48 victory and earning a little reassurance in the process before the games start counting.

Photo: Zach Ornitz
Forward Rick Jackson puts up a shot during SU's final exhibition matchup against Le Moyne Tuesday night.

Le Moyne was looking to pull another upset in the Dome as Kevin Roth scored the first two points of the game.  Head Coach Steve Evans came out using his own version of the 2-3 zone, but Kris Joseph decided it was time to put the Dolphins' dreams to bed. The junior swingman shot a perfect three for three from the field in the first half, leading the charge as the Orange sent a clear message to the neighboring college early on in the contest.

“I definitely wanted to set the tone for my team and try to get going early,” said Joseph, who finished with 12 points. “I wanted to get the team hype and I think I did a good job of that.”

Le Moyne’s Nate Champion converted a three-point play at the 12:14 mark in the first half to cut the SU lead to just two points.  But just as soon as the Le Moyne fans started to get excited, sophomore sharpshooter Mookie Jones knocked down two huge three-pointers to swing the momentum back in the favor of the Orange.

“I was just being patient, and when the shots came, the guys’ energy level did go up,” Jones said. “We went on from there, so they did help out.”

After hearing all the negative comments about last year’s game, Jones and his teammates wanted to make sure that they sent a message to themselves rather than the opposition.

“We didn’t do this for them,” said Jones. “We did this for us.”

The message was made loud and clear when SU headed to the locker room with a 41-25 lead at the half, and it was reiterated once the second half started.  Freshman center Fab Melo kicked off a 16-2 run as the Orange backcourt had its way in the opening minutes of the second half.  Syracuse held Le Moyne scoreless until the 16:13 mark, and the Syracuse lead grew to 31 points in the first six minutes of the second half.

After admitting that he was nervous in his first college game last week, freshman point guard Dion Waiters was cool, calm, and collected as he ran the show throughout the final half.

“I had to get my swag back,” said Waiters. “We went out there and did what we had to do. We couldn’t let these guys beat us because we got tired of hearing the same thing over and over about last year. I wasn’t here, but a lot of people were all up in my ear because we lost to a D-II school.”

Waiters finished the night with 13 points and five assists, and the contributions off the bench have given Joseph and the other upperclassmen confidence in the younger guys when the starting five takes a seat on the bench.

“It feels good to know that when the starters come out of the game that we don’t lose anything,” said Joseph. “James [Southerland] stepped up today, and Mookie [Jones] does a great job shooting the ball. Dion [Waiters] did a great job of running the team as well, so it just feels good to know that when we sit down we’re not losing a step or a beat on offense or defense.”

Beside Waiters, junior point guard Scoop Jardine put up 13 points and the duo led the team in scoring. The lone bright spot for Le Moyne was the play of sophomore Chris Johnson. The 6’0” guard led all scorers with 23 points as he seemed to be the only offensive option for Coach Evans.

With the exhibition portion of the season over, Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim was pleased with his team’s efforts as they get ready for the long season ahead of them.

“We came through these two exhibition games as well as we could expect to,” said Boeheim. “We’ve got a lot of basketball ahead of us obviously playing four games in seven or eight days, but I think we’re rested and ready to go.”

The Orange will host Northern Iowa Friday night in what should be a good early-season barometer for Boeheim’s squad.  Last season Northern Iowa became a nationwide Cinderella story when Ali Farokhmanesh put a dagger in the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks during the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“Northern Iowa is very good basketball team and I believe they will be another NCAA team again this year,” said Boeheim. “It’s a great opening night and we’re prepared for it and looking forward to the challenge.” 

SU guard Scoop Jardine gestures during Tuesday night's win against Le Moyne. (Photo: Zach Ornitz)

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