If you could combine #9 Syracuse’s first two games of the season, there would be one phenomenal game and one that would give head coach Jim Boeheim at least one migraine. After overcoming a 14-point first half deficit to blow out Cornell in the season opener, the Orange (2-0) dominated early against Fordham before settling for an 89-74 victory.
SU blistered the Rams (1-1) in the first half, jumping out to 25-point halftime margin, but their intensity waned after the break. The visitors simply could not shoot straight to start the game, hitting 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) in the opening session, which included missing their first nine three point attempts. Things got better for Fordham after the break, as they shot 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) from the field, including 9-of-15 (60 percent) from three-point range, as they racked up 53 second half points.
The Orange dominated the glass in the first half, compiling a 23-10 advantage on the boards. Syracuse nearly outrebounded the Rams on the offensive end alone, as nine of those rebounds came on that end and were converted into 13 second chance points. SU also forced a dozen turnovers and cashed those in for 15 points before halftime.
Less than 15 seconds into the game, the Orange were on the board and they held a 6-0 lead before 100 seconds were off the clock. After a pair of Fordham free throws, Syracuse hung up six more points for their first double-digit lead of the night less than four-and-a-half minutes into the game. C.J. Fair got off to a hot start, scoring seven of the first dozen for the Orange.
After the Rams whittled the margin down to eight, SU rattled off ten straight points in just over four minutes. Jerami Grant did a lot of the heavy lifting, tallying six points in the span to help propel the Orange to a 26-8 lead with less then seven minutes on the clock. Fordham’s Branden Frazier started to heat up, scoring all the points in a brief 8-4 Rams run, but Syracuse closed the half by outscoring the guests by a 16-5 margin. The outburst sent SU into the locker room with a comfortable 46-21 lead.
The Orange kept Fordham at a comfortable distance during the first 11 minutes of the second half. During that span, the lead varied between 20 and 27 points as SU appeared content to simply trade scores with the Rams.
A trio of treys in under two minutes got Fordham within 75-58 with 6:41 on the clock, then six straight markers by the Rams clipped the margin to 78-66 with 3:33 to play. After two SU free throws made it a 14-point game, the Rams threatened to get within a dozen again with just under three minutes remaining.
Grant rose to the challenge for Syracuse, emphatically blocking a shot that triggered an SU fast break. Fair converted the break with a three-point play that pushed the margin out to 83-66. Another Fair shot pushed the lead to 19 points with two minutes left and extinguished any lingering comeback hopes of the Rams.
C.J. Fair paced the Syracuse attack with a personal best 26 points., including 15 in the first half. Jerami Grant recorded a double-double, setting career highs of 16 points and ten rebounds. DaJuan Coleman also had a double-double for the Orange, finishing with ten points and ten boards, while Tyler Ennis dropped in 16 points as the fourth SU player with double figures in scoring.
Branden Frazier was the driving force for Fordham, compiling a game-high 33 points, including 19 after halftime. Jon Severe added 19 points for the Rams, including 17 in the second half, while Mandell Thomas chipped in with ten, all in the final ten minutes of the game.
Syracuse will hit the hardwood again on Saturday when they host Colgate. The Raiders (0-1) dropped their season opener on Friday at Wake Forest, 89-78. Six players posted double figures in scoring for Colgate as they made 14 three-pointers in the game. Colgate trailed by four points with under seven minutes to play before the Demon Deacons pulled away.
Tip-off is slated for 4:30pm Eastern and will be televised on the ACC Regional Sports Network (check your local listings). The contest will also be available online at ESPN3.com.