Syracuse overcame an abysmal first half and rallied to defeat Southern Connecticut State 84-59 on Monday evening to finish out the last of two exhibition games.
The Orange looked flat in the first 20 minutes, shooting 8 for 31 from the field, a dreary 25.8 percent, and went 2-for-13 from behind the arc.
“We’re still making really bad mistakes offensively,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We didn’t have enough movement and had too much reliance on shooting the jump shot.”
But the Orange went into halftime down only five and heated up after intermission. SU went 20 for 35 from the field (57.1 percent) out of the break, and 5-for-12 from behind the arc.
“(In the second half) we were moving better, talking, and attacking more,” guard Tyus Battle said. “We didn’t settle for as many 3s and we were getting to the basket and drawing fouls.”
Battle and Frank Howard combined for 39 points, and Oshae Brissett chipped in 16.
The Orange also struggled with a perpetual problem it has to face each season: rebounding. Despite being much taller than Southern Connecticut State, the Orange was outrebounded 25-22 in the first half.
“We didn’t go after the ball and didn’t make the effort we had to,” Boeheim said.
SU picked up the pace in the second half and outrebounded the Owls by 13, finishing with a +10 advantage overall. Even more impressive was SU’s dominance in blocks, as it held an 11-0 advantage.
The Orange also showed encouraging signs in its full-court press. Boeheim ordered the press frequently to apply pressure and it was effective, accounting for several of the Owls’ 20 turnovers.
“We’re better defensively with our pressure and we’re mobile there,” Boeheim said. “We did a decent job making it difficult for them.”
Syracuse has a short four-day turnaround before the regular season home opener against Cornell on Friday. There will be plenty of growing pains along the way.
“Sometimes with young guys, they don’t understand the level of intensity you have to play with,” Boeheim said. “It takes a little while.”