No. 10 Syracuse 68, N. Iowa 46
It took Kris Joseph one half to adjust to his new role as a
starter for No. 10 Syracuse. After one game, he likes the fit.
Spurred by a comment from freshman Dion Waiters and a vocal
halftime speech by coach Jim Boeheim, Joseph scored 13 of his 14
points in the second half, Rick Jackson also scored 14 points, and
the Orange recovered from a slow start to beat Northern Iowa 68-46
on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Joseph, held to one free throw in the first half, scored 10
points and Jackson had six in the first seven minutes of the second
half to key a 19-5 run that gave Syracuse a 36-21 lead at
”Coach told us to relax and just play,” said Joseph, who
missed a 3 on the game’s first shot and was called for a charge
before either team had scored. ”In the first half, I was thinking
too much. When you overthink, things get harder. People who say
basketball is 90 percent mental are right. I had the charge and a
few other plays, and you get frustrated, but you have to keep your
It was the 830th career victory for Boeheim, tying him with Jim
Phelan of Mount St. Mary’s for fifth all-time in Division I. And
Boeheim was pleased with the way his team responded in the second
half against the two-time defending Missouri Valley champions, who
toppled top-seeded Kansas in the second round of the NCAA
tournament in March.
”It was a tough game to start with because they’re so patient
and they’re a very good defensive team,” Boeheim said. ”Kris is
obviously key for us. He had nothing in the first half and we
struggled. He got going in the second half. We’ve got to get back
to the drawing board and get ready for Sunday (against
Johnny Moran scored 15 points and Anthony James had 12 for the
Panthers, who dropped to 0-9 against Big East teams. They could
have used the deft shooting touch of Ali Farokhmanesh, who made 77
3-pointers last season, including the gutsy one in the final minute
that beat the Jayhawks. The Panthers shot 6 of 33 on 3-pointers and
27.3 percent overall from the field for the game.
”This is as hard a game as you’re going to play,” Panthers
coach Ben Jacobson said. ”It’s a very good test, a very good
challenge. That’s the best way to prepare your team. I thought our
guys, for the first time seeing this zone and the length and ground
they can cover, did well. I give our guys a lot of credit.”
Joseph started the decisive rally with a 3 from the top of the
key, Waiters hit a 3 from the right wing and Jackson’s baseline
hook gave Syracuse a 36-21 lead at 14:48.
The Panthers tried to rally from long range, but only Kerwin
Dunham and Moran connected in the first 11 minutes as Northern Iowa
fell behind by as many as 19.
”In the first half, we really didn’t know what to expect,”
said Jackson, who had seven rebounds, two blocks, two steals and
matched his career high with four assists. ”They took us a little
by surprise and we were a little nervous. We really did a good job
on defense, and that helped our offense.”
One of Boeheim’s biggest concerns was replacing the outside
prowess of Big East player of the year Wes Johnson and Andy
Rautins, who both shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc last
season. After hitting 11 of 16 3-pointers in an easy exhibition win
Tuesday night over Division II Le Moyne, doing it against the
man-to-man defense of the Panthers wasn’t nearly so easy in the
first half as the Orange made just 2 of 9.
The second half was completely different as Joseph came alive,
hitting 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and Syracuse hit 7 of 10
3-pointers in pulling away.
The Panthers milked the clock in an effort to slow the game, but
they missed some open looks when the game was still close.
”It’s a big defense. Those guys are long,” said senior guard
Kwadzo Ahelegbe, who had seven points and four assists but missed
all eight shots he took from beyond the arc. ”We got some great
looks. A great team like that, it’s tough to keep them down.”
Scoop Jardine and Joseph excelled as the first players off the
Orange bench last season, combining to average nearly 20 points a
game. Both moved into the starting lineup this season and while
Joseph found his game Jardine never did. Jardine failed to score,
going 0 for 7, missing three attempts from beyond the arc.
Joseph, who got an earful from Boeheim after failing to snare a
rebound just past the midpoint of the first half, airballed a 3 at
the buzzer and the Orange went into the locker room with a 23-20
”Dion told me to calm down and get going,” Joseph said.
Both teams struggled at the outset, each missing nine of 11
shots and combining to go 1 of 12 from beyond the arc. When Jackson
hit two free throws for the Orange with 8:51 left in the first
half, the score was tied at 12-all.
”I think everybody was nervous in the first half,” said
Waiters, who had 10 points in his debut. ”At halftime, Coach told
us to keep our poise, just play basketball and have fun.”