NEW YORK — A quick take on Syracuse’s 74-71 win against Richmond in the Empire Classic at Barclays Center:
WHAT HAPPENED: After Jason Nelson’s jumper with 3:28 in overtime tied the game at 68, Chris Bell made a tough jumper that started a 6-0 run to end the game. The Spiders had several oppotunities with a minute left to cut into SU’s four-point lead, but Richmond missed seven consecutive shots on a possession that lasted 35 seconds, and the Orange finally rebounded a Tyler Burton missed 3-pointer with :08 left to improve to 3-1.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse showed that it has a long ways to go on the defensive end (Richmond shot 13-31 from 3-point land), but the Orange made significant strides against the Spiders. Isaiah Bigelow’s 3-pointer with 5:56 left appeared to give Richmond control of the game as the Spiders were easily carving up the SU 2-3 zone. But the Orange forced three 24-second violations in the final six minutes, and another one in overtime. Jim Boeheim also made two key moves that may dictate his rotation and style of play for the rest of the season. For the second straight game, he abandoned his man-defense, as the Orange went exclusively zone. Boeheim also went with his starting lineup down the stretch in the second half and in overtime, as Bell played a season-high 34 minutes. Certainly, SU showed some mental toughness in not panicking when Richmond took a late lead.
HERO: Joe Girard scored a career-high 31 points, though most of his damage came in the first half. Mintz finished with 16 points and Bell hit 3 of 5 of his shots from beyond the arc for 11 points. Bigelow finished with 17 for Richmond.
ZERO: Jesse Edwards was in foul trouble most of the first half, but ended up with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks. His substitute, Mounir Hima, played key minutes in the first half, with 2 blocks in 14 minutes.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse will play St. John’s in the Empire Classic Finals at 9:30 p.m at the Barclays Center. TV: ESPN2.