Syracuse beats Loyola of Maryland 70-37

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) It didn’t take Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim long to sum up his Orange’s latest outing.

”I thought our defense was good, and that’s it,” Boeheim said Tuesday night.

Against Loyola of Maryland, that was more than enough.

Rakeem Christmas had 18 points and six blocks, and freshman Chris McCullough added 17 points in a 70-37 triumph, Syracuse’s 54th straight nonconference victory.

”We did a good job of looking for Rak (Christmas) inside. He’s got to finish better around the basket,” Boeheim said.

The 6-foot-9 Christmas, the team’s leading scorer and a key player at both ends of the court, was 7 of 14 from the floor and pulled down nine rebounds in 30 minutes, though he finished with four fouls for the fourth time in the young season. He also fouled out against California in the Orange’s lone loss.

”I don’t worry about fouls,” Christmas said. ”I just go out and play my game. I was just trying to be a difference-maker for the team.”

Syracuse (4-1) held the Greyhounds (2-3) to 10-of-52 shooting (19.2 percent), their third straight game under 30 percent.

”We have to keep it realistic,” Loyola coach G.G. Smith said. ”Our three losses (Syracuse, Texas Tech and Butler) are in the money games, the teams we’re supposed to lose to. That’s just the way it is.

”We’re just not doing the things we need to do to win,” Smith said. ”Big guys are not tough enough inside. Our guards are not getting the other guys open. We can have one guy play well in one game and completely give us nothing in another game.”

The Orange, who dropped out of the top 25 for the first time in five years after suffering a 14-point loss to Cal last Thursday in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, had little trouble with the poor-shooting Greyhounds in the first meeting between the teams.

Trevor Cooney scored 13 points for Syracuse, which struggled to find any sort of rhythm against an overmatched opponent. Loyola’s final total nearly matched the Carrier Dome record for futility by an Orange opponent – Colgate scored 35 in December 2005.

Tyler Hubbard led Loyola with 21 points and freshman Chancellor Barnard had two points as the Greyhounds had only three players score for the second straight game. The rest of the lineup shot 0 of 15.

”We’ve just got to find a way to get more consistent on offense,” said Eric Laster, who had 14 points. ”We can’t have games where only two or three people score. That’s not going to win games.”

The Orange defense held the Greyhounds without a field goal for the first 11:30. Loyola missed its first 13 shots from the floor along with three free throws and also committed seven turnovers in falling behind 17-1 before Hubbard hit a 3 from the top of the key, prompting a mock cheer from the home crowd.

And yet despite the awful start, Loyola was within 25-16 in the final minute of the half on Hubbard’s second 3. But Christmas converted a three-point play with 1.1 seconds to go for a 28-16 Syracuse lead at the break and the Orange pulled away in the second.

McCullough scored six points in the first three minutes of the second half to spark a 14-1 run. His resounding dunk off a feed from B.J. Johnson boosted the lead to 38-17.

Loyola didn’t get it first basket of the second half until Laster hit a 3-pointer with 12:09 left.

KEY PLAY

When Loyola narrowed the Syracuse lead to nine in the final minute of the first half, Christmas responded with his clutch three-point play and the Greyhounds couldn’t recover.

”We were only down nine, but we give up an offensive rebound and three-point play,” Smith said. ”You rebound the ball and it’s a nine-point game at halftime. We just didn’t do a good job of breaking down the zone. We worked on it in practice. We did exactly nothing. That’s what Syracuse does to you.”

TIP-INS

Loyola: The Greyhounds also struggled from the field in splitting the previous two games, shooting an identical 29.4 percent against both UMBC and Butler. Loyola was 15 of 41 from the floor in each game. It marked the first time the team had consecutive games shooting under 30 percent since February 2002 in losses to Iona and Fairfield.

Syracuse: Syracuse played its first game as an unranked team since Nov. 16, 2009. The Orange’s streak ended at 80 consecutive polls, third among the current streaks behind Duke (139) and Kansas (105).

UP NEXT

Loyola hosts Siena on Saturday.

Syracuse hosts Holy Cross on Friday.

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