A quick take on Syracuse’s 78-63 victory against Cornell Saturday afternoon in the Dome, the final non-conference game of the regular season:
WHAT HAPPENED: On a day when the NCAA champion Syracuse men’s soccer team was saluted at halftime following Monday’s title win over Indiana, the SU basketball team used a strong second half showing to down the Big Red for its fifth consecutive win. Syracuse (8-4, 1-0) trailed by 11 points in the first half, and crept back to tie the game 37-37 at halftime, then turned on its athleticism and a strong defensive effort after halftime to win going away. Joe Girard led all scorers with 19 points (15 at halftime), Judah Mintz had 14 points and three assists and three steals, while Chris Bell had a nice second half scoring, finishing with 13 points. In fact, all five SU starters finished in double-figure scoring. Syracuse has now won 42 straight games in the series dating back to 1969. It was the first game since former Syracuse great Louis Orr passed away Thursday night from cancer, with his Number 55 jersey hanging high above the court providing a reminder of his elite status in the program’s history.
ANALYSIS: Cornell (7-3) entered the game leading the nation in 3-point attempts and second nationally in 3-pointers made, and sure enough jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the game’s first minute. But after leading the bulk of the first half, the Big Red went cold from long distance in the second half, which was caused by the ‘Cuse picking up its defensive intensity in the zone. The Big Red finished just 13-of-48 (27%) from beyond the arc (the most attempts in school history), while Jesse Edwards, practically a non-factor in the first half (one point), came alive after halftime to finish with a double-double – 11 points and 12 rebounds, along with five blocks.
HERO: Girard was marvelous in the first half almost single-handedly keeping SU in the game with his 15 points. The sharp-shooter hit all six of his free throws and added three rebounds, four assists and a steal in another steady performance.
ZERO: Until it took control in the second half, Syracuse’s struggles defensively and rebounding provided Cornell with numerous second chance opportunities (19 second chance points). The Big Red also outrebounded SU 45-39, but Cornell’s cold shooting after halftime did them in.
WHAT’S NEXT: The start of all-ACC conference play for Syracuse the rest of the season. The Orange play 19 more regular season leagues games, plus a minimum of one game in the ACC Tournament over the next 12 weeks. It begins with a home game against Pittsburgh next Tuesday night, December 20 at the Dome. Last season the teams split their two games, each winning at home. Pitt (8-4, 1-0), on its homecourt, defeated North Florida Saturday afternoon 82-56 for its seventh win over the last eight games. Game Time: 9:00 p.m. ET. TV: ESPNU.