NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse’s 73-59 loss to California in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse and Cal played mostly even through the first 17 minutes of the first half, but the Bears drained four unanswered 3-pointers to take a 34-20 lead with 56 seconds left. Syracuse would get no closer than 12 in the second half as they lost a non-conference regular season game for just the second time in their last 68 tries.
ANALYSIS: For the last five years, the Orange has been able to remain an elite team despite multiple early defections to the NBA. It appears that things have finally caught up to SU. The Orange looked every bit the inexperienced team in their third game of the season, having no offensive fluidity, shooting 37 percent from the field while only having seven total assists. The defense is still a work in progress as well. The Bears were able to methodically dissect the zone, finding easy 3-pointers (8-19) and high percentage shots (47 percent). It is, of course, far too early to panic about Syracuse, but this team will require much more improvement than in year’s past.
HERO: Jabari Bird feasted off excellent Cal ball movement, and hit 4 of his 5 tries from downtown for 14 points. Jordan Matthews led all scorers with 19 points. Michael Gbinije came off the bench to lead Syracuse with 13 points.
ZERO: Syracuse needs more from its sharpshooter, Trevor Cooney. SU’s leading returning scorer struggled shooting the ball again, with just nine points on 3-9 shooting (2-6 from downtown). He didn’t get much help from his teammates, and the Orange shot just 4-15 as a team from beyond the arc. Another zero goes to the PA announcer at the Garden, who consistently pronounced Joseph’s name “KAH-leeb”instead of Kaleb.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will play Iowa on Friday at 5 p.m. in the 2K Classic consolation game. Iowa lost to Texas in the other semifinal earlier in the night. TV: ESPN2/ESPNU.