The #9 Syracuse Orange kicked off their 2012-2013 basketball season with fanfare, defeating #20 San Diego State in the “Battle of the Midway”, 62-49. The game was played in the sun and wind on a basketball court built on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Midway Museum, a retired aircraft carrier docked in San Diego, California. SU’s trademark 2-3 zone was in midseason form and was aided by the elements as they held the Aztecs to just under 27 percent field goal shooting in the game, including a meager 1-of-18 from three-point range.
San Diego State got the opening basket of the contest, but Syracuse responded with the next half dozen points to take a four-point lead three minutes into the action. After another Aztec basket, the Orange grabbed control of the game, ripping off 11 straight points for a 17-4 lead with just over eight minutes elapsed.
San Diego State whittled down the margin to nine with a little over eight minutes on the clock, but SU responded with a 7-2 run to get the margin back out to 14 at 26-12. The margin remained in double figures for the rest of the half with the Orange scoring the final three points of the half for a 33-19 lead at the break.
Syracuse nudged the lead out to 15 a couple minutes into the half, but San Diego State crawled back to within 39-28 less than six minutes into the session. The Orange quickly stretched the lead out to 14, then later got a pair consecutive field goals to push the lead out to its largest point at 49-33 just after the midpoint of the second half. Four quick points got the Aztecs within a dozen, but SU responded with the next five points for their biggest lead of the day at 54-37 with 4:35 left. SDSU narrowed the margin to 11 points on a couple occasions, but never threatened the rest of the way.
C.J. Fair was in midseason form from the jump, collecting a double-double of 17 points and ten rebounds. In his first start with the Orange, Michael Carter-Williams matched Fair with 17 points and proved very active on defense, amassing five steals. Brandon Triche chipped in with 15 points.
Rakeem Christmas was the backbone of the SU defense, blocking five shots. James Southerland joined Christmas on the “swat team”, blocking three more shots. In addition to blocking ten shots as a team, the Orange also collected a dozen steals.
The Orange open the Carrier Dome on Sunday when Wagner comes to visit. The Seahawks (0-0), who return four starters from a team that went 25-6 last year, start their season on Wednesday with a game against Delaware State before their trip to Syracuse.Jim Stechschulte (Follow on Twitter @dsafetyguy)