Syracuse v. Canisius — What we learned

Jim Boeheim notched his 899th career win with a 85-61 win over Canisius on Saturday night. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

1. Exam week takes its toll

It was clear to anyone watching, either live or on TV, that the Orange came out sluggish and sloppy to start the game against the Golden Griffins. It was an ugly half of basketball and Syracuse held a small lead heading into the locker room. The offense wasn’t efficient or in-sync. The defense over-committed, allowed too much penetration and didn’t get a hand in the faces of shooters. But was I worried? No, not at all. We have to remember that these guys are students first. They’ve spent the whole week taking exams, thinking about academics rather than basketball. I credit the slow start to a week of exams and nothing else. Everything will be back to normal when Monday rolls around.

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Exam week contributed to a slow start

» Related: Syracuse uses big second half to top Canisius

2. Offense operates better when Carter-William is a passer, not a scorer

Carter-Williams had just one assist at the half. He finished with 14, giving him his eighth straight game with nine or more assists. The big difference between the first and the second half was his mentality. In the first half, he was a scorer. He led the team in points. In the second half, he had just two points, focusing on assists. The offense operates more efficiently when he’s passing the ball like he does. He makes the rest of the team better when he puts people in the position to score.

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3. Southerland finding other ways to score

Before tonight, Southerland hadn’t hit a three-pointer since the Arkansas game. He hit a few tonight, but it seems like the three-pointer no longer needs to be the centerpiece of his game. When Southerland isn’t hitting threes, what else can he do to contribute? Last year, there wasn’t really anything he could do. This year, he’s been getting to the basket, hitting floaters and making mid-range jump shots. He’s opening up a new avenue for his game. No longer is he pigeon holed as a three-point shooter.

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