NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse’s 66-63 win against Iowa in the consolation game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on Friday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: A layup by Tyler Roberson with 18:14 left in the game sparked a 13-2 run, and turned a four point lead into a 52-37 lead with 11:38 left. But Iowa responded with an 8-0 run, and eventually closed to within 59-58 with 3:30 left after an Aaron White dunk. The margin was still one point when Chris McCullough intercepted Adam Woodbury’s pass with 8.4 seconds left and calmly sank two free throws, which was enough to preserve SU’s third win.
ANALYSIS: A fun quote from last night after Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was asked what he could do to fix the offense between the Cal game and tipoff today: “There’s nothing I can do between now and 5 o’clock tomorrow.” And yet, plenty changed in the last 22 hours. The Orange had much better ball movement (17 assists) and, as a result, shot a much higher percentage from the field (42 percent). SU’s defense was more active as well, generating 18 turnovers, which led to 20 points. Still, the Orange showed their inexperience again in allowing the Hawkeyes back in the game after initially building a 15 point cushion. Iowa switched to a 3/4 court trap, which flustered the Orange guards, and generated turnovers on four straight positions. Then, with 43 seconds left and Syracuse up one, Kaleb Joseph took an ill-advised jumper with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock, a move that Boeheim labeled a “freshman play” after the game.
HERO: One night after McCullough was bullied down low by Cal, the willowy freshman had much more success inside against a less aggressive Hawkeye team. McCullough led SU with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and made the play of the game with the steal and subsequent free throws. Joseph looked significantly more aggressive in his second night at Madison Square Garden, and finished with seven points and nine assists, though on the downside, he was just 3-10 from the field and committed five turnovers. Jarrod Uthoff had 20 points and eight rebounds for Iowa, but didn’t score in the final five minutes.
ZERO: As improved as the Orange offense looked, outside shooting will likely be a struggle all season. SU was just 3-15 from downtown, with Cooney being the only player to hit a shot from beyond the arc. Michael Gbinije struggled shooting the ball, hitting just 1-8 shots, but did contribute seven rebounds.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse returns home to face Loyola Marymount on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. TV: ESPN3.