NEW YORK (AP) The big lead was gone. Chris McCullough wouldn’t let the game get away, too.
McCullough had 20 points, nine rebounds and a key steal with 8.4 seconds left, and No. 23 Syracuse held off Iowa 66-63 on Friday night in the 2K Classic consolation game.
”I thought at the end of the game Chris made a great steal,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ”He came across in our trap and made a great play. That was the game. If he doesn’t come across and get that, we don’t win.”
Article continues below ...
Rakeem Christmas bounced back from his foul-plagued performance Thursday with 18 points for the Orange (3-1), who led by 15 in the second half but needed some key plays from McCullough, a freshman from the Bronx who had 13 after halftime.
”We just came out more aggressive,” McCullough said. ”We rebounded and played good defense at some points.”
Jarrod Uthoff scored 20 points and Aaron White added 15 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa (2-2).
Christmas, Syracuse’s leading scorer, was limited to eight points before fouling out in the Orange’s 73-59 loss to California on Thursday.
Christmas made the first two baskets of the game and had already matched his point total from Thursday night with still 8 1/2 minutes remaining before halftime. He had 13 at the break, leading the Orange to a 34-29 advantage.
An 11-2 run turned a four-point lead into a 48-35 advantage on Kaleb Joseph’s basket with 12:36 left, and Syracuse’s lead reached 15 with 12:02 to play.
Uthoff and White led Iowa back, and the Hawkeyes cut it to 63-62 on Adam Woodbury’s follow shot with 55 seconds remaining.
”They stretched it a little bit but we didn’t panic, we didn’t collapse,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
The Hawkeyes got the ball back after an Orange miss, but McCullough stepped in front of Woodbury’s pass to White for a steal with 8.4 seconds left. He was fouled and made both to make it 65-62, and Christmas added one more free throw while the Orange fouled intentionally to prevent Iowa from attempting a 3-pointer that could’ve tied it.
Trevor Cooney finished with 14 points and Joseph had eight assists for the Orange, who before Thursday hadn’t lost in November since falling 107-100 to Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 2007.
Woodbury had 12 points for Iowa, which had won both previous meetings, though the most recent was in the 1980 NCAA tournament.
Syracuse: The Orange avoided what would’ve been their first back-to-back losses at Madison Square Garden in the same tournament since falling to South Carolina and Temple in the 2002 postseason NIT. The Orange won the national championship the next season. … Syracuse improved to 14-3 in this event, most wins of any team. They won the title in 2004 and 2009.
Iowa: Iowa was playing its second of five games in eight days. The next three will be back at home before the Hawkeyes go on the road again to visit No. 6 North Carolina on Dec. 3 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. … White made all five free throws and has attempted 597 in his career, moving past Devyn Marble into sixth place on Iowa’s list.
ON SECOND THOUGHT
McCaffery said he talked to Woodbury after the game about the intercepted pass, and the forward said he would have thrown a skip pass instead if he could do it over, rather than try to force it into White. ”That was a big defensive play,” McCaffery said. ”Woody feels terrible about it.”