While last year’s Boeheim’s Army team relied on playing their best in the fourth quarter, this year’s version had their way almost bell-to-bell in their Basketball Tournament opener against India Rising, cruising to a 90-62 victory. India Rising scored the first five points of the contest, but the Army answered with six straight markers and went ahead for good before the midpoint of the opening quarter.
The Army relied on their superior athleticism throughout the game, as evidenced by a 31-0 whitewashing in fast break points in the game and a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint. Boeheim’s Army also forced 15 turnovers from India Rising and converted those miscues into 19 markers.
The Army’s advantage in athleticism also showed by the team putting together several big runs in the contest. The second quarter featured a pair of 9-0 runs, the latter finishing the opening half to put Boeheim’s Army in front at the break, 43-27.
While a three to open the third quarter made the latter run a dozen straight points, that burst was outdone by the Army rolling up 15 straight points later in the period. That offensive showing staked Boeheim’s Army to a 63-33 advantage with a little over two minutes left in the third.
The lead swelled to 35 points on a three-point play from Andrew White III shortly before entering the Elam Ending phase of the game at 81-48, meaning the first team to reach 89 points would win.
India Rising got rolling from long range, opening the Elam Ending with a pair of threes and adding two more before the Army closed the game with the final seven points.
Former Mississippi State Bulldog Dee Bost had 18 points to pace the Army, including the game-clinching three. Matt Morgan, who played at Cornell with Jimmy Boeheim, and Andrew White III each dropped in 16 points, the latter knocking down four triples. Morgan tied for the team lead with four assists while White had eight boards to lead the Army.
Boeheim’s Army will return to action on Saturday when they face The Nerd Team, who advanced by a 79-71 victory over Brown & White. Former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel Jelan Kendrick paced the Nerds with 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the floor while former Yale Bulldog Brandon Sherrod added 17 points. The Army and the Nerd Team will face off at 2:00pm Eastern on ESPN.
The days of Boeheim’s Army relying on the 2-3 zone are a thing of the past. With a roster featuring six players who played at Syracuse (including Jimmy Boeheim, who spent more time at Cornell than 90 minutes north) to four who never suited up at SU, man-to-man defense is en vogue.
Tyler Ennis struggled with his shot in the opener, making just 2-of-9 from the field and missing all four of his threes. The upside is that Ennis was the only Boeheim’s Army player to not shoot at least 40 percent from the field.
A major difference in the game was shooting two-point field goals. Boeheim’s Army shot 25-of-44, good for a 56.8 percent mark, while holding India Rising to 9-of-29 (31.0 percent).
Matt Morgan and Andrew White III combined for the highlight of the night. Morgan grabbed a defensive board and pushed the ball down the court, eventually slipping a behind-the-back drop pass to White for a one-handed slam in the middle of the Army’s 15-0 run.