William & Mary-Syracuse Preview
Syracuse has won its first three games for the eighth consecutive season, but coach Jim Boeheim is probably a little less pleased by this start.
After needing to rally in each game, the 10th-ranked Orange will try for a more complete performance when they host William & Mary in Sunday's second round of the Legends Classic.
Syracuse (3-0), which led by just three points at halftime in each of its first two games, trailed Detroit by three after 20 minutes in the Classic opener Tuesday night. Scoop Jardine helped his team recover for a 66-55 victory by scoring 12 of his career-high 27 points in the first six minutes of the second half.
"If Scoop didn't pull us on his shoulders and take the game over, we have no chance," Boeheim said. "No one else wanted to shoot or took a shot like they wanted to shoot. Pretty soon we're going to play somebody who can make a shot and we're not going to win."
Rick Jackson (10 points) was the only other player in double figures for the Orange, who shot a season-low 36.4 percent. Syracuse, though, managed to score 41 in the second half and have averaged 46.7 points in the final 20 minutes of its three games - 20 points higher than its first-half average.
"I think if you just take the second halves we play, then we're not overrated,'' Boeheim said sarcastically. "Maybe we can just skip the first half and start the second half at 0-0. If they let us do that, it would really be pretty good."
Jardine, who was held scoreless in his season debut, seems to have adjusted to a starting role. Kris Joseph, who was one of Syracuse's top reserves on last season's Big East championship squad along with Jardine, has proved inconsistent so far.
Joseph helped the Orange rally in their season-opening 68-46 win against Northern Iowa by scoring 13 of his 14 points in the second half, but he was 0 of 5 while contributing just three points Tuesday.
Joseph averaged 10.8 points in 2009-10, but has managed just nine per game this season on 26.1 percent shooting.
Rough starts, meanwhile, are nothing new for William & Mary, who has dropped its first two games for the fourth consecutive season. The Tribe went on a 10-game winning streak after last season's 0-2 start and finished 22-11 to advance to the NIT for the second time in school history.
They return two starters - junior swingman Quinn McDowell and senior forward Marcus Kitts - from that team, but only one has scored in double figures in each of the first two games. Kitts had 16 points and 13 rebounds in a 73-49 loss at Richmond on Monday, and 10 points off the bench in a 76-52 defeat at Virginia on Nov. 12.
After facing William & Mary for the first time, the Orange will travel to Atlantic City, N.J., to continue the Legends Classic against Michigan on Friday night.