Last season, Syracuse was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation. This season, the #15 Orange are off to an even worse start and the most recent evidence is in their 5-for-28 shooting behind the arc on Friday evening. All those misses enabled #13 Oregon to cruise to victory in the consolation game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, 80-65. The loss drops SU to 2-2 on the season.
Syracuse’s defense was excellent last season, but was leaky against the Ducks (3-1), who made half of their shots in the game. Freshman 7’2” center Bol Bol was dominant for Oregon, hitting 11-of-17 shots en route to a game high 26 points.
The game turned for good late in the first half when the Ducks scored a dozen straight points to blow open the contest. The Orange, who trailed by a single point with under four minutes left in the half, went to the locker room in a 35-22 hole and rarely got within single digits after that.
With Oregon holding an early lead, Elijah Hughes hit a three from the right corner and Jalen Carey added one from the left corner on consecutive possessions. Tyus Battle would add a foul shot to make it seven straight points for an 11-6 Syracuse lead with almost seven minutes elapsed.
Just past the midpoint of the first half, though, the Ducks went on their first run of the game, scoring 11 of the game’s next 13 points. In just over three minutes, Oregon turned a two-point deficit into a 23-16 lead.
The Orange responded with six straight points. Bourama Sidibe leaked out behind the defense and turned a long lead pass from Hughes into a dunk to get SU going. Carey dropped in a free throw and Battle converted a putback in transition while being fouled. The junior guard added the free throw to bring Syracuse within 23-22 with just over four minutes left in the opening half.
The Orange offense went cold the rest of the session, as Bol Bol and Payton Pritchard each scored a half dozen points before the buzzer, staking the Ducks to a 35-22 halftime lead.
Four straight SU free throws early in the second half sliced the margin to single digits and a Hughes three-point shot got the Orange within eight. Oregon quickly ballooned the lead back to 13 then pushed it out to 15 on a trey five-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
Syracuse responded with seven straight points. Carey started the burst with both ends of a one-and-one, then Battle knocked down a jumper in transition while being fouled. Battle hit the free throw to complete the three-point play, then Carey forced a steal in the full-court press and finished with a reverse lay-up to pull the Orange within 49-41.
The Ducks needed just over two-and-a-half minutes to outscore SU 10-3 to reinstate their 15-point lead and pushed it out to 16 points with just over eight minutes remaining.
Once more, the Orange hung seven straight points, but Kenny Wooten emphatically finished an alley-oop while being fouled. His free throw put Oregon back in front by a dozen with 6:26 to play and SU never got within single digits again.
Tyus Battle paced the Orange with 17 points, hitting 9-of-10 from the line. Jalen Carey and Elijah Hughes scored 14 points apiece and combined for eight steals with the latter grabbing five. Oshae Brissett suffered through a horrific shooting night, managing to tally 11 points while making just 2-of-12 shots, including 1-of-9 from deep.
In addition to his 26 points, Bol Bol posted game highs of nine rebounds and four blocks. Payton Pritchard added 18 points and Kenny Wooten was the third Oregon player in double figures, finishing with a dozen points.
SU returns home to face Colgate on Wednesday night. The Raiders have won their last two games to boost their record to 2-1 on the season and will host Binghamton on Monday evening prior to their matchup with the Orange.
Four different players are averaging in double figures for Colgate, led by Jordan Burns and his 19.0 points per game. Will Rayman posts 16.0 points per game and Rapolas Ivanauskas, a 6’10” junior, is averaging 15.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per outing for the Raiders.
The action between SU and Colgate will tip off at 7:00pm Eastern from the Carrier Dome. The game will be available online at ESPN3.com.