Instant Juice: Syracuse 71, Louisiana Tech 69

McCullough suffered an ACL injury that benched him through most of the 2015 season.
Syracuse defeated a scrappy Louisiana Tech team.

A quick take on Syracuse’s 71-69 win against Louisiana Tech on Sunday afternoon:

WHAT HAPPENED: Turnovers and inconsistent defense plagued the Orange throughout, but they managed to put away a feisty Louisiana Tech team on a Rakeem Christmas jump hook with 2.8 seconds remaining. The game-winning layup was needed after Syracuse nearly blew a 67-60 lead with 2:54 left. Alex Hamilton scored nine consecutive points for the Bulldogs, including a layup with 22 seconds left that knotted the game at 69.

» Related: What have been Syracuse’s biggest themes so far?

ANALYSIS: Inconsistency was once again the theme of the afternoon for the Orange. Kaleb Joseph looked like he’s getting more comfortable, shooting the ball well, but he also turned the ball over 8 times and had problems navigating the Bulldog press. Syracuse managed to cover for its mistakes in part through relentless effort on the boards, with Tyler Roberson (14 points, 17 rebounds, including 11 offensive) doing most of the damage by himself. Chris McCullough chipped in with 6 boards before fouling out. Even Christmas’s game-winner came after a Joseph miss caromed out of bounds off a Bulldog player.

HERO: Rakeem Christmas put the Orange over the top, but the Orange were in a position to win because Good Trevor Cooney showed up and scored 25. There are caveats–Cooney still has more ugly misses than you want from a sharpshooter, and was able to drive effectively in part due to a lack of interior shot blocking. But credit the much-maligned shooting guard with coming up big when he needed to.

ZERO: BJ Johnson was awful, shooting 0-7 and turning the ball over 4 times. Kaleb Joseph’s rollercoaster freshman year continues–Cooney took over as lead ballhandler for the Orange late in the second half. Syracuse will need Joseph to improve quickly if they want to avoid a bloodbath in conference play.

WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Philadelphia to face off against old Big East rival Villanova on Saturday, Dec. 20 a 1 p.m.

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About Corey Mallonee 50 Articles
In addition to his editing duties, Corey covers the Syracuse football and basketball beat. He has previously worked in the book publishing industry and currently contributes to Syracuse University’s bE Magazine. Originally from Bangor, ME, Corey graduated from Syracuse University in 2007. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyMallonee.