A quick take on Syracuse’s 80-67 win against Texas Southern Sunday afternoon, in the more subdued Dome atmosphere of students being home for the between- semesters break, and the university closed for the holidays:
WHAT HAPPENED: In the final non-conference game against the Tigers from the SWAC, coached by Mike Davis who led Indiana to the 2002 NCAA title game, the Orange (10-3) took a while to get going before putting away road-weary TSU (1-10) with some better outside shooting from a trio of players, and another inspired game inside from Dajuan Coleman (14 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and two blocks).
ANALYSIS: It took part of the first half to get the post-holiday energy flowing for SU, before expanding a 10 point halftime lead to put the away the road-weary Tigers who have only played one home game in Houston so far this season. Malachi Richardson started the ‘Cuse on its way with seven straight points to begin the second half, and was complimented by Trevor Cooney, Tylor Lydon, Michael Gbinije and Richardson, all scoring in double figures.
HERO: Coleman’s play, in is final SU season, may determine just how far this team can go. As he recovers from a debilitating knee injury, his energetic play at both ends stood out against the mid-sized Tigers. Two sport star Derrick Griffin had 20 points for Texas Southern.
ZERO: Gaps, large at times, in the zone defense, allowed TSU to hang around by either throwing up alley-oops for dunks, scoring from in close with short jump shots, or burying three pointers (TSU guard Jerron Martin hit six). Mike Hopkins has emphasized a tighter overall zone defense in the three weeks plus he’s been running the show.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse opens its third season of ACC play on the road against Pittsburgh (10-1) on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Pitt’s only defeat was a 13 point loss to Purdue at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, and they are hovering just outside the Top 25. The Orange is 2-7 at the Petersen Events Center since the building opened in 2002 (remember the Tyler Ennis buzzer beater from practically halfcourt to win 58-56 in 2014?). Game Time: 9:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPN2.