The numbers were a little deceiving.
In Syracuse’s 80-61 win over Bucknell, the Bisons shot 28.6 percent from the field and 2-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half. Normally, that would be a job well done to the defense.
But SU coach Jim Boeheim saw something completely different.
“In the first half when they had four or five wide open shots and they just missed them,” Boeheim said. “Wide open. If they would have made those shots it would have been about an eight point game at halftime, which is what it should have been.”
Fortunately for the Orange, that’s not what actually happened in the game, as the Bison ended up shooting 37.9 percent from the field and 7-for-21 from downtown for the game.
But there were other concerning defensive statistics from the game.
Syracuse, which leads the nation in turnovers per game, was only able to force 12 turnovers, roughly six below its season average.
“We didn’t force many turnovers,” Boeheim said. “And that’s how we get going on offense.”
But for one night, Syracuse’s defense was not its best offense.
Instead, SU was able to get points out of its halfcourt set, as the Orange shot 52.8 percent from the field and 8-for-17 from downtown.
“We’re a pretty good offensive team,” Boeheim said. “We made some shots tonight, and I think we can make more shots.”
The Orange started the game by featuring big men Rakeem Christmas and Fab Melo inside. Christmas responded immediately by scoring SU’s first seven points of the game.
The two combined for 18 points and 14 rebounds, as SU outscored Bucknell in the paint 32-14.
The Orange also received solid performances from its senior leaders, Kris Joseph (a game high 17 points) and Scoop Jardine (14 points and four assists).
“(Scoop and I) need to perform well for our team not necessarily in points per game, but just being there offensively and making plays for our teammates,” Joseph said. “If Scoop and I are doing that every night then I think we are going to be very successful.”