A quick take on Syracuse’s 57-47 win over Lehigh to open the 2015-16 season:
WHAT HAPPENED: Up 32-12 at half, the Orange watched its double-digit lead disappear in the second half after it came out of the locker room cold on offense. Jesse Chuku’s layup cut the lead to 36-30 with 12:33 left, part of a 16-2 run. But the Orange responded on the ensuing possession, with Kaleb Joseph draining a 3 from the top of the key to put SU back up nine, and the Orange would maintain control for the rest of the game.
ANALYSIS: The two emerging themes from Syracuse’s opener could be distilled into four words: Defense and outside shooting. The Orange zone stifled Lehigh in the first half, holding it to 8.7 percent shooting from the field, 28 percent for the game, and 2-17 from downtown. The Mountain Hawks also committed 16 turnovers, though they were significantly more comfortable moving the ball in the second half. On the other end of the floor, Syracuse wasn’t bashful from downtown, firing often and without hesitation. The Orange was 11-34 from beyond the arc, predictably alternating hot and cold. That should prove to be a microcosm for the season, with SU lacking a true inside presence now that Rakeem Christmas is in the NBA.
HERO: With Dajuan Coleman in early foul trouble, Syracuse used a combination of Tyler Lydon and Chinonso Obokoh and both proved capable of manning the middle. Obokoh finished with four blocks and four rebounds, furiously protecting the rim. Lydon provided plenty of energy that will endear him to Orange fans, finishing with 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks, though he shot just 1-5 from the field for four points. Gbinije led all scorers with 16 points and Malachi Richardson chipped in 14 in his college debut.
ZERO: You could see flashes of potential on this Syracuse offense, with the Orange opening the season with 11 3-pointers. But SU will need to improve its shot selection, with Gbinije (2-9), Cooney (3-9) and Lydon (0-3) struggling with their outside shots. SU was also sloppy with the basketball, turning the ball over 17 times with Cooney, Richardson and Gbinije combining for 13 of them.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts St. Bonaventure on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome. TV: ACCRSNs/ESPN3-College Extra.
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