An aggressive man-to-man defense and a full court press? For large portions of their game against Manhattan on Tuesday night, #5 Syracuse used both of these tactics with impressive results, cruising to a 92-56 victory at the Carrier Dome in the first game of the NIT Season Tipoff. The Orange (2-0) set aside their trademark zone for long stretches and forced 28 turnovers by the Jaspers (1-1), as well as allowed them to connect on only 31.6 percent of their field goals. The defense was so good, even though SU fans spent nearly the first seven minutes of the second half on their feet, clapping and waiting for the first Orange basket of the session, the home team extended their lead.
Syracuse got off to a slow start on offense, going scoreless in the opening minutes while Manhattan took a 5-0 lead. The Orange knotted the score, then shortly after seized control of the game by ripping off 15 straight points to go up 20-8 just over nine minutes into the game. The Jaspers knocked down a three to stop the SU burst, but Syracuse responded with another run, this one of 12 straight points, to push the margin out to 32-11. Manhattan clawed back with a 7-0 run to get within 14 points, but the Orange closed the half with a 12-1 burst to double up the visitors at the break, 52-26.
SU went the first 6:43 of the second half without connecting on a field goal, but made 8-of-10 free throws to extend their lead to as many as 32 points. In fact, the first second half basket by the Orange triggered an 8-0 run to put the Orange on top, 68-30. SU made their lead as large as 40 points just after the midpoint of the second half, then again with just under two minutes on the clock, as Manhattan never got closer than 33 points the rest of the way.
For the second straight game, Dion Waiters provided a huge jolt off the bench, this time topping five double-figure scorers with 17 points. Kris Joseph and James Southerland each scored 15 points. With his output, Joseph became the 55th player in Syracuse history to amass 1,000 career points. Brandon Triche added his dozen in the first half and Fab Melo fell one rebound shy of his first double-double, dropping in 11 points and collecting a team-high nine rebounds, while swatting four shots. The Orange racked up 15 steals on defense, led by C.J. Fair, who had five, and Waiters and Michael Carter-Williams, who each had three swipes.
SU continues through the NIT Season Tipoff on Tuesday when they take on Albany. The Great Danes (1-1) knocked off Brown on Monday, 77-69. The game will tip off at 4:00pm Pacific and be streamed online at ESPN3.com.