A quick take on Syracuse’s 82-52 win over Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: With 18:02 left in the second half, Ty Cockfield collected an offensive rebound and nailed a 3-pointer, causing Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to slam his suit jacket to the ground. Syracuse went on an 11-0 run from there to take a 53-39 lead, capped by an Elijah Hughes 3-pointer with 12:32 to go. The Orange led by double-digits the rest of the way, which made up for a shaky first half that saw SU trailing by as many as 11.
ANALYSIS: One game after his centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe combined for five points and five rebounds, Boeheim mixed things up against the Red Wolves, inserting Marek Dolezaj into the starting lineup at center for the first time this season. The results were mixed. On the one hand, Arkansas State jumped out to an early 5-2 advantage on the boards, with Dolezaj struggling to contain 6-foot-9, 240-pound center JJ Matthews. On the other, it sparked Chukwu to have his best game of the season, snagging 13 rebounds off the bench. In other encouraging news, Syracuse shot just 5-13 at the free throw line against Buffalo, but improved significantly on Saturday with the Orange finishing 24-29 at the charity stripe.
HERO: Syracuse’s tempo was far better in the second half, epitomized by one play in particular. With 10:16 to go and the Orange up 55-41, Oshae Brissett knocked away an entry pass to the paint that ignited a fast break. Four dribbles from Elijah Hughes, one dribble from Frank Howard, and a thunderous alley-oop to Tyus Battle followed, spanning six seconds and 87 feet, which brought the Carrier Dome crowd to its feet. SU has rarely been in transition this season, but sought to push the pace with 13 fast break points. Hughes and Battle each scored 17 to lead SU, while Ty Cockfield had 17 of his own for the Red Wolves.
ZERO: Frank Howard still doesn’t look like he’s fully recovered from his injury. He shot just 1-6 from the field and 0-4 from downtown to finish with six points. Jalen Carey sat out with a hip injury, pressing Buddy Boeheim into action.
WHAT’S NEXT: Following the holiday break and six days between games, Syracuse returns to play next Sat., Dec. 29 against upstate rival Saint Bonaventure (4-8) at the Dome, capping off a seven game home stand. The Bonnies will have an extra day off before meeting SU after falling late on the road at Northeastern 64-59 Friday night. The teams met in the Dome last season with SBU winning 60-57 in overtime. Yes, the Orange scored just 57 points in 45 minutes of game action a year ago. Game Time: 2:00 p.m. ET /TV-Radio: ESPNU-Sirius XM.