Orange trim Saint Rose 87-69
With the final seconds of the first half ticking off the clock, Syracuse was holding a slim three-point lead against Saint Rose, a Division II foe aiming for an upset.
Standing in the right wing and dribbling the ball to waste some time, Golden Knights guard Andre Pope found himself wide open because of an Orange defensive breakdown and drained a 3-pointer to send his team into halftime with a 30-30 tie against the No. 5 team in the country.
''I think our players have to realize that when you leave people open, they're going to make them at any level,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''I thought it was a good lesson for our players. They have to rebound, they have to make sure they defend.''
Luckily for Boeheim and the Orange, the defensive flubs didn't cost Syracuse the game. The Orange hit eight of 14 3-point attempts in the second half, including two from freshman guard Michael Carter-Williams during a decisive 21-6 run that sent the Orange to an 87-69 victory over the Golden Eagles in an exhibition game.
Forward Kris Joseph finished with 12 points, while Carter-Williams had 11 to go with three assists, zero turnovers, one block and two steals in just 12 minutes.
Syracuse led by as many as 13 points after a 10-0 run in the opening 8 minutes of the game before letting down.
''We had to pick up the defensive intensity,'' Joseph said. ''That was the main thing. We had them at first and we kind of stepped back a little bit and was lackadaisical. That's when they made a little run and caused the game to be tied at halftime.''
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage Saint Rose had against Syracuse was its disadvantage in size, but by spreading the court, the Golden Eagles were able to make up for it with their rebounding. They outrebounded Syracuse 38-33.
Boeheim said he wasn't going to draw any conclusions from an exhibition game against a Division II opponent, but he said he hopes his team learned a lesson.
''We've obviously got to do a better job rebounding,'' Boeheim said. ''We can't have dead spots and I just think overall, we had 10 or 12 minutes at the end of the first half where we didn't play the way we have to play.''
Saint Rose coach Brian Beaury said his team's lack of toughness in the second half was what disappointed him the most.
''I thought that we did a lot of good things in the first half,'' Beaury said. ''We made some shots, which kept us in the game. We talked about the second half - let's not let them have a 50-point half - and they had a 57-point half. I'm not disappointed that we lost, I'm disappointed how we lost.''
Syracuse altered its defensive strategy at halftime, increasing its defensive intensity and utilizing a press that forced 17 turnovers and 11 steals in the second half.
And as the defense improved, the Orange's shooters took over. A thunderous dunk by James Southerland dazzled the crowd with just over 4 minutes remaining, giving the Orange a 76-56 lead.
''We've got to keep our foot on the pedal,'' Joseph said. ''We pressed them, saw that that worked, and kept that going for a little bit and we got a lot of steals and got points off those turnovers. That's what changed the game around.''
Pope finished with 14 points and sophomore center Dominykas Milkas had 14 points and eight rebounds for Saint Rose.
Syracuse hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc and Boeheim played everyone on the bench - 17 players in all - and 10 logged at least 12 minutes. The Orange forced 27 turnovers, blocked 12 shots and had 15 steals.