Syracuse finished its exhibitions on Tuesday night, with the Orange using a late second-half surge to subdue Carleton, 77-58. Here are three things we learned from the game.
CARLETON IS NO PUSHOVER
Tuesday’s contest was far more of a test for Syracuse than its Saturday exhibition against Division II Daemen.
Carleton is Canada’s top college basketball team with national championship aspirations of their own. If they played in the United States, they would be mid-major quality. Carleton played several exhibitions over the summer against American teams, winning two (South Florida and Albany) and losing one (Valparaiso).
So it should not surprise anyone that the Ravens were nonplussed by the length and athleticism of the Orange. Five minutes in, Carleton actually held the lead after a layup from Isiah Osborne gave the Ravens a 14-6 lead.
Anyone not named Elijah Hughes shot 0-5, while Hughes hit his first two 3-point attempts of the half. The Orange would surge ahead by 10 at halftime, but the Ravens stayed mostly within striking distance until late in the second half.
“The advantage of this game is that you’re playing a really smart, physical, tough team that knows how to win,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “They’re a very good team and this was a really good game for us.”
It may be hard for Boeheim to keep Joe Girard on the bench.
The freshman entered into the game with a little over seven minutes left in the first half, and it didn’t take long for him to fire up the crowd.
With 4:56 left in the half, Girard nailed his first 3-point attempt of the game off a dribble drive while being fouled. He hit the free throw for a four-point play.
He wasn’t done, of course.
On SU’s ensuing possession, Marek Dolezaj handed the ball off to Girard, and Girard took care of the rest, as he stepped into a 3-pointer that game SU a 33-29 lead.
Seven points in 31 seconds. Not too shabby.
In the second half, Girard showed his versatility, contorting his body to shield himself on a fast break to hit a layup with 6:08 to go. And he showed off his confidence, draining a 3-pointer a minute later just after he had missed a 3-point attempt, giving SU its largest lead of the night at 72-52.
Girard finished with 14 points on 5-7 shooting in an efficient 16 minutes.
“He’s playing good,” Boeheim said. “He’s doing a really good job.”
HUGHES THE VERSATILE
Everyone knows that Hughes will be the alpha on this year’s team.
Hughes is SU’s leading returning scorer at more than 13 points a game, and he once again led the Orange with 15 points on Tuesday.
But Hughes did so many other things for the Orange. He also led Syracuse with 10 rebounds and early in the first half was entrusted with initiating the offense with Jalen Carey and Brycen Goodine failing to generate much offense.
“He can bring it up, and if he brings it, we have a different attack when he has the ball,” Boeheim said. “We will have him do that.”
Hughes stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with three assists, two steals and a block.
The versatility not only refers to the stat sheet, but also his offensive repertoire. Last year, Hughes was mostly a standstill shooter with Tyus Battle and Frank Howard operating with the ball in their hands. This year, Hughes has shown his ability to be a three-level scorer.
One such sequence occurred with 7:08 left in the second half. Hughes received the ball near the 3-point line, but saw a size mismatch and backed his defender into the paint. He rose up from the free throw line elbow and swished a turnaround jumper, a move that Hughes didn’t show at all last year.
Only half of Hughes’ shots came from beyond the arc, and he finished 5-12 from the field, 2-6 from downtown, and 3-4 from the free throw line.