No. 5 Syracuse 92, Oakland, Mich. 60
Brandon Triche had some big shoes to fill in replacing point guard Jonny Flynn for Syracuse. Consider them filled.
The freshman from the Syracuse suburbs had a season-high 27 points, Wes Johnson added 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the fifth-ranked Orange beat Oakland, Mich. 92-60 on Tuesday night.
Syracuse (12-0) has a week before it opens Big East play at Seton Hall, and Triche is brimming with confidence.
``I'm just feeling more comfortable,'' Triche said after hitting all six 3-pointers he attempted. ``Earlier today, I was texting a friend and he said just try to get back to our high school days, just have fun, be comfortable in my game.''
Oakland (6-7), weary from a road trip that has taken the Golden Grizzlies from Detroit to Seattle to Oregon and then back to the East Coast in the past week, dropped to 0-11 against the Big East in losing its third game to a ranked team this season. They also lost on the road to top-ranked Kansas (89-59) and Michigan State (88-57).
Syracuse took control with a 17-4 run that began midway through the first half, with Triche and Johnson each scoring eight points, then pulled away in the second.
``We were kind of sluggish, taking what the defense gave us,'' Johnson said after his second straight double-double and fifth of the season. ``I was aggressive on the boards and he (Triche) was finding his open shots and knocking them down. That's what kept us in the game.''
Drew Maynard led Oakland with 18 points, while Keith Benson, who has seven double-doubles and was averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds, finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Derick Nelson had 10 points.
Triche, who at 6-foot-4 and a muscular 200 pounds can be a bruising force in drives to the basket, was 9 of 11 from the field and had four assists with one turnover. Rick Jackson had 14 points and Mookie Jones had 13 in just 16 minutes.
Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku, who sustained a bruised right quad in the Orange's win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday, did not start, played only 5 minutes, and did not score. He was hardly missed on a team with six players averaging in double figures.
``When one guy's down, another picks us up,'' said senior guard Andy Rautins, like Triche a graduate of nearby Jamesville-Dewitt High School. ``Brandon's blossoming at the right time and really stepping into his role. We look forward to seeing him continue to grow.''
Syracuse shot 55.4 percent, had 24 assists on 36 baskets, and held the Golden Grizzlies to 37.1 percent shooting, including 2 of 22 (9.1 percent) on 3-pointers.
``They entice you to shoot long shots,'' Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. ``There were two or three times that we were on the wing, the ball hit the back of the rim, came straight out and they were scoring. All of a sudden, from a seven-point game it's 17. You're like, `How did that happen?'''
After Benson's basket off the glass moved Oakland within 16-13 at 11:56, Johnson started the Syracuse surge with a steal and layup on a pretty passing play with Kris Joseph.
Johnson's baseline 15-footer at 10:27 boosted the lead to 23-13, Triche followed with two 3-pointers from the left corner just over a minute apart, and Johnson's 3 from right wing gave the Orange a 32-17 lead.
Oakland trailed 43-28 at halftime after going 2 of 16 from beyond the arc.
Triche scored the first three points of the second half, then hit Rautins with a behind-the-back pass on a fast break for an easy layup and a 49-32 lead.
Triche then converted a baseline floater and hit his fifth 3 of the game to give the Orange a 20-point lead less than 5 minutes into the half.
``We're playing good, lots of passing, lots of assists,'' Jackson said. ``Brandon was just hot tonight. I felt everything he shot was going in.''