It was much more of a struggle than hoped, but Syracuse managed to hold off Cornell Wednesday night and claim an 80-68 home victory in a game that was originally scheduled for December 21, but postponed due to COVID issues in both programs.
The Orange (7-5) took an early 15-point lead and eventually a 19-point second half advantage, but the Big Red (8-3) would not go quietly, eventually forcing some previously removed SU starters back into the game during the final minutes.
Syracuse made a lot of hay in the game by dominating inside the three-point arc. The Orange shot 26-of-37 (70.3 percent) on two-point field goals, propelling them to an overall 56.1 percent shooting mark on the night.
SU’s defense was fairly good at times and certainly looked good on the stat sheet by holding the Big Red to 35.4 percent shooting overall and 32.6 percent from three while also forcing 22 turnovers in the game. Cornell was often content to swing the ball back and forth on the perimeter, letting time run off the shot clock before getting up a hurried shot.
Syracuse got out to a 17-2 start in the first eight minutes, getting a balanced attack as every starter got into the score book. The Big Red shot 1-for-12 in that time and added six turnovers including the first of three first half shot clock violations.
Cornell made charges at the Orange in both halves due to getting hot from three-point range. Syracuse held their guests to a 1-for-11 start from long range, but Cornell snapped out of their cold streak by making 4-of-5 threes and seven in total during the final nine minutes of the opening half, pulling within 34-29 at intermission.
A pair of Keller Boothby triples drew the visitors within three in the opening minutes of the second half, but SU posted an 18-3 run shortly after to open a 62-43 lead just before the midpoint of the session. Cole Swider had ten points in the span, including eight straight for the Orange, sandwiching a breakaway dunk between a pair of left wing threes.
Cornell made one last push, rattling off eight straight points to chip the margin into single digits with just over two minutes remaining. SU held on, scoring the next five points to open a little more breathing room.
Buddy Boeheim led all scorers for the second straight SU game, this time finishing with 22 points. Cole Swider and Jimmy Boeheim each made 8-of-12 shots from the field, the former finishing with 21 points and the latter 16 against his former school. Jesse Edwards added 11 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
Keller Boothby hit 6-of-11 triples as he rolled up 20 points to pace Cornell. Guy Ragland, Jr. added four threes for the bulk of his 16 points. Dean Noll added a trio of treys for most of his ten points.