Brandon Triche ended the first half of Saturday’s game against Seton Hall shaking his head and tugging at his shorts. He ended the game with a smile on his face while high-fiving his teammates.
Triche scored 15 second-half points as No. 4 Syracuse (16-0, 3-0 Big East) survived an overall sloppy performance to defeat Seton Hall (7-9, 1-3) 61-56 at the Prudential Center.
“We had no flow to what we were doing on offense,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Luckily, our defense was pretty good. If Brandon didn’t hit those threes, it would’ve been a different game. It was the only bright spot on offense.”
Triche was virtually nonexistent in the first half, missing his only shot and scoring zero points. He was also responsible for a turnover on SU’s last possession of the half as Syracuse clung to a 20-19 lead.
But the sophomore guard exploded in the second half and carried SU with him. Triche went 4-for-5 from downtown, including a rare four-point play, which gave SU a 41-33 lead with 11:43 left. It was part of an 11-3 run that gave SU control of the game.
“Just to knock down a few threes, it really helped my confidence,” Triche said. “I just said to myself I’m going to shoot. The first half, I took one shot. In the second half, I said, even if I’m not open, I’m going to try to get a shot up there.”
Kris Joseph added 15 points and eight rebounds. Rick Jackson narrowly missed another double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds.
Still, the Pirates stayed close behind Jeff Robinson’s 17 points and Herb Pope’s 14 points and 20 rebounds.
A Pope layup pulled the Pirates to within 57-55 with 55 seconds left. But guard Scoop Jardine (12 points) scored on a drive to the basket on the ensuing play, and Jordan Theodore missed a layup as Syracuse survived.
“We came out kind of dead,” Jackson said. “We beat them because we’re outright better than them. But if we play like we did today, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”
Both teams struggled offensively, especially in the first half.
SU was 1-for-8 from distance in the first half, a feat surpassed only by Seton Hall missing all 17 of its shots from downtown.
“Defense isn’t the problem,” Boeheim said. “We gave up 19 points in the first half. We have to play better on the other end.”
Seton Hall, which has been without preseason All Big East selection Jeremy Hazell — out with a broken wrist — for most of the season, shot just 31 percent from the field and was 3-for-26 from downtown.
Meanwhile, while the Orange shot 44 percent from the field, it was also 17-for-36 from the free throw line. Joseph was 8-for-17.
Syracuse also committed 15 turnovers.
“For whatever reason, we lost our offensive rhythm,” Boeheim said. “We’ve been playing well offensively the past 10 games or so. Tonight, we were just really bad. Our offense was just really terrible.”
Wesley Cheng is the Editor in Chief for The Juice Online.