A quick take on Syracuse’s 72-48 win over Holy Cross on Black Friday at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse held Holy Cross to just eight points in the final 12 minutes of the first half to turn a 10-9 margin into a commanding 39-17 lead. Holy Cross came out of intermission with a full-court press that allowed the Crusaders to pull within 11, but another 8-0 run put the Orange back up 56-37 with 9:05 left, and put the game out of reach.
ANALYSIS: Here’s what we’ve learned about Syracuse through six games: The Orange can’t hit an outside shot. The offense will run through its two bigs, Chris McCullough and Rakeem Christmas. The Orange is best when it forces turnovers and gets out in transition. Syracuse will struggle against traps and full-court presses. All of these things happened tonight against Holy Cross, in particular the poor outside shooting and interior scoring. Syracuse went 0-10 from downtown but McCullough and Christmas combined for 39 points to make up for it. They helped Syracuse shoot 46 percent from the field and gain a 50-30 advantage on the glass. SU was also an uncharacteristic 20-25 from the free throw line.
HERO: Christmas finished with a career-high 25 points on an efficient 8-10 shooting from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line. McCullough was nearly as impressive, finishing with 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. But the loudest cheers for the night were for walk-on Christian White in his first appearance with the Orange. In mop-up duty, he finished with three rebounds, one of them coming as he dived out of bounds to save the ball. White could’ve added a breakaway layup, but that ended up being vultured by Michael Gbinije.
ZERO: Anyone who wasn’t at the Carrier Dome tonight probably had a frustrating experience loading the game on ESPN3. Things got so bad with the streamed channel that #ESPN3FAIL began to trend. As for the actual game, Eric Green came in shooting 59 percent while averaging more than 14 points per game, but he was just 2-13 from the field for four points. Trevor Cooney continued his funk, finishing 1-7 from the field (0-4 from 3-point land) for five points.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange will face its second real test of the season when it travels to Michigan to take on the Wolverines in the Big 10/ACC challenge on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN.