A quick take on Syracuse’s at times challenging 65-47 win over Hampton in the second round of the 2K Sports Classic, in front of an announced crowd of 22,848 at the Carrier Dome Sunday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: For a team that didn’t even arrive in Syracuse until three and a half hours before the 4:00 tip-off due to travel issues leaving Iowa Saturday, Hampton (0-2) came out unfazed playing patient offense probing the Orange zone “D”, and gave SU fits playing its own version of the zone. After trailing by as many as 12 early in the second half, HU cut the lead to four with just under nine minutes to play before succumbing to the more athletic Orange. On the eve of his 70th birthday, Jim Boeheim won his 950th career game.
ANALYSIS: Hampton gave Syracuse (2-0) a taste of its own zone defense medicine forcing the Orange to get good shooting looks at the basket, and often times it was one and done offensively against the pesky Pirates. Big men Rakeem Christmas and Chris McCullough were in second half foul trouble, but when on the court were too much for the smaller Pirates combining for 28 points and 20 rebounds.
HERO: Christmas continued his early season flourish offensively and on the boards, finishing just a rebound shy of a double-double at halftime. In all, Christmas had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with game high 15 points, before limited by late foul trouble.
ZERO: The Orange field goal shooting went through stretches in which it was almost as cold as the 30° temperatures outside of the Dome. SU struggled for consistency against a mix of Hampton defenses before finally putting the Pirates away in the final 5:00 of the game. McCullough was a spectator much of the second half after picking up his fourth foul with just over 17:00 to play, but still finished with 11 points.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse heads to Madison Square Garden Thursday night to face off against California in the semi-finals of the 2K Classic. Cal (2-0) routed Kennesaw State 93-59 Sunday evening. Iowa (1-0) and Texas (2-0) are the other two teams playing in New York. Game time: 9:00 p.m. ET (approximate) / TV: ESPN2.