MBB : Steady Syracuse holds off No. 17 Florida in CBE Classic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Syracuse team that now gives itself the label ‘veteran squad’ has learned a few things during the past year. How to stay calm on a national stage. How to close out an opponent. How to distribute the scoring and play solid team basketball.
All were on display Monday night, as Syracuse beat No. 17 Florida, 89-83, here at the Sprint Center in the semifinals of the College Basketball Experience, playing a composed game throughout and disposing of a solid Gator (3-1) team. The game marked Syracuse’s first win against a ranked, non-conference team since Nov. 19, 2004, when it beat Memphis.
The Orange (4-0) will play No. 22 Kansas tomorrow at 9 p.m., in the finals of the CBE tournament. The Jayhawks beat Washington, 73-54, in the second semifinal Wednesday.
Syracuse had five players score in double-figures, and two players – forward Paul Harris and center Arinze Onuaku – record double-doubles. Harris and Jonny Flynn led the way with 18 points apiece.
This time last year, the Orange was floundering through its non-conference schedule, losing to Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The team that showed flashes of promise in between bouts with futility appears to have transformed into a consistent team. That’s what another year will do.
‘You see the top teams in the country, and they have more juniors and seniors on the team, have more experience on the team,’ Flynn said. ‘So another year under our belt really helped us in situations like this.’
Monday’s game was a lesson in playing even-keeled basketball. Time and time again, as Florida hit big shots, Syracuse was there to answer them. In the first half, when the Gators gradually heated up behind the hot shooting of Erving Walker, Syracuse shooting guard Andy Rautins was there to stave them off with five first-half three pointers.
With the score tied at 33, and less than two minutes remaining in the half, Rautins drained back-to-back treys to ensure a halftime lead for Syracuse.
‘We feed off that type of stuff,’ said freshman Kris Joseph, who totaled 10 points. ‘That’s like our fuel. Andy’s making shots, the next thing you know (Onuaku is) getting a dunk, Jonny’s getting a basket. So it really boosts our team confidence.’
Florida led for less than two minutes early in the first half before the Orange took the lead for good. After the break, Syracuse went on a 13-6 run to take a decisive 12-point lead. The Gators never got within four points the rest of the game, as Syracuse finished with a 51.7 percent shooting clip from the field, including 40 percent from deep.
‘We never let them cut it within four, you know, we kept building the lead,’ Harris said. ‘I just kept telling (Flynn) to just keep coming, keep coming. Last year, we might have let teams come back, but that’s just a sign of maturity.’
The Orange never allowed Florida to score more than two field goals before answering with points of their own. Without going on any huge streaks of its own, the Orange managed to keep momentum out of the Gators’ reach, playing on a neutral floor.
‘Coach used the phrase ‘Gut this one out,” Flynn said. ‘We did whatever we could to win the game, and we came out with a big ‘W’ on the road.’
After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim preached about his team’s mistakes. Florida center Alex Tyus totaled 24 points after averaging eight before the game. The Orange still made some careless mistakes, and missed key free throws.
But one thing even the head coach couldn’t complain about was how different this game was to those of a year ago.
‘I don’t think it’s necessarily depth, its experience,’ Boeheim said of his team’s scoring output. ‘…These guys are all first-year players last year. We didn’t have Andy, we didn’t have Eric. Now they’re back and it’s a different team. We’re more veteran guys out there.’
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
THEY'RE BACK: Syracuse pulls off furious comeback win against Yale to return to final four after longest absence since 1979
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Brian Megill sprinted over to Dominic Lamolinara and catapulted into his arms. The game was over. The unthinkable was no longer… Read more »