A quick take on Syracuse’s 98-74 win against Albany:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Great Danes were able to hang with Syracuse for the first eight minutes of the first half as the game was tied at 16 with 12:52 left. From there, James Southerland took over. He drained two 3-pointers and hit another jumper as part of a 14-2 run that gave Syracuse a 30-18 lead with 9:30 remaining. Dion Waiters would lead another charge to end the half, scoring six of eight SU points during an 8-2 to close the half, as the Orange essentially put the game out of reach with a 51-34 lead into intermission. In the second half, SU coach Jim Boeheim played a lot of his younger players, with Michael Carter-Williams playing point guard down the stretch. As expected, Carter-Williams had some flashes of brilliance, and also freshman moments, shooting 2-of-7 from the field for four points.
ANALYSIS: Southerland once again showed this game that he has the potential to be a force off the Orange bench this year. He finished with a career-high 19 points and five rebounds, and was at the center of Syracuse’s big run midway through the first half. Southerland also contributed 15 points and six rebounds in SU’s 92-56 win over Manhattan on Monday. But this is early in Syracuse’s schedule, and Southerland has been known to be inconsistent throughout his career. The junior made frequent appearances in Boeheim’s rotation—and doghouse—last year. Clearly, Southerland has the shooting ability to be a star, but the question will be if he can continue to contribute on off-shooting nights.
HERO: Kris Joseph tied Southerland for the team high in scoring, with 19 points. And, while it is a good sign that Joseph led the team in shots (14), he often settled for jumpers instead of trying to get into the lane. The rest of SU’s front line continues to impress. Between Baye Keita, Fab Melo and Rakeem Christmas, the trio accounted for 31 points and 16 rebounds. Keita had his best game of the season with 14 points, hitting all six of his shots. All three looked dominant in the paint.
ZERO: While it was a nice night offensively for the Orange, Albany kept Syracuse on its heels all night defensively. Gerardo Suero led the way with 31 points, getting into the lane and drawing contact nearly at well. He ended up hitting 11-of-12 free throws, and was 9-for-16 from the field. Logan Aronhalt also had some success from the perimeter for the Great Danes, hitting four 3-pointers. If Syracuse wants to compete deep into March and April, it will need to clamp down on opposing team’s guards.