Thursday, December 31, 2015

Orange Drops Conference Opener Thanks to Late Surge by Pitt

By Nick Richardson

Pittsburgh, Pa.  – For the first time since 2007, the Syracuse men’s basketball team owns a conference record of 0-1, as it dropped the ACC opener to the Pittsburgh Panthers 72-61 on Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center.

The Panthers (11-1, 1-0) broke open what had been a tightly contested ballgame in the last six minutes, going on a 14-2 run and not allowing an Orange (10-4, 0-1) field goal in the last 5:32.

“I felt really good for 35 minutes,” Syracuse interim head coach Mike Hopkins said. “I had heartburn the last five.”

"Down the stretch when we needed them, we seemed to attack the zone the way we wanted to," Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said. "We got penetration, more layups, more inside-out (stuff)."

Pitt’s Sheldon Jeter was the difference-maker late, as he came up with a pair of big dunks as well as a three-point play in the last few minutes, scoring seven of his 11 points in the second half.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Orange, which is  now 4-3 under Hopkins while Jim Boeheim continues to serve his nine-game NCAA-imposed suspension.

Trevor Cooney and Tyler Roberson paced the Orange with 15 points apiece, with Roberson adding a team-high seven rebounds.

Balanced Opponents

Despite what the final score might indicate, the game was very tight for most of the game. After a sloppy start by both sides, the Orange came back to tie things up 30-30 at halftime.

The second half saw better offensive play and several lead changes. Both teams got solid production from their key players. For Syracuse, Cooney continued his hot long-distance shooting, making three of his five three-point attempts. Pitt’s Jamel Artis came close to a triple-double, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

One player whom the Orange would’ve liked to see more production out of was Tyler Lydon, who wound up with only four points but could have easily had more had he not passed up a few good-looking shot opportunities. He took only three shots. Hopkins said he wouldn’t mind seeing the freshman be a little more selfish.

“I probably pull four back muscles and a shoulder muscle every time he does [pass up a shot],” Hopkins said with a grin. He then gave a visual example of his reaction, flailing his arms about in fake exasperation.

Interior Domination

When looking at the key reason why the Orange fell short against the Panthers, one needn’t look any further than the glass, which Pitt thoroughly dominated all night.

The Panthers outrebounded the Orange 43-25 for the game, including 25-13 in the first half.

Syracuse’s struggles on the boards were compounded when senior big man Dajuan Coleman fouled out shortly before the Panthers made their late charge.

“We’re small and when DaJuan gets into foul trouble we’re really small,” Hopkins said. “With the guards getting rebounds, that’s a significant difference.”

Despite the lopsided rebounding stats, Hopkins said he was proud of how his team, particularly guards Cooney and Michael Gbinije, battled for rebounds.

“The thing that I was most proud about him [Cooney] and Mike was that, obviously they played 40 minutes, but they did a great job on the defensive end,” Hopkins said.

Missed Opportunities

Apart from the large rebounding discrepancy, the Orange was also on the short end of numerous second chances throughout the contest. In fact, the Panthers finished the game with a whopping 22-2 advantage in second-chance points.

“Sometimes you can play defense for 28 seconds this year with the deep three, it’s short or it gets blocked and they put it back in,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes those things happen.”

Perhaps no one embodied those missed chances more than Gbinije. Despite finishing with 14 points, he shot just 4-12 from the field and 5-10 from the free throw line. Several of his misses came on layup attempts that just didn’t seem to want to go in.

“You need to be able to attack Pitt and get to the basket and I thought our guys did a really good job,” Hopkins said. “We missed a couple late, we had it right there, but it happens.”

Game Notes

Free throws were once again a problem area for the Orange.SU went 16-25 for the game, including a paltry 7-14 in the first half.

Each team had four players finish with double-digit points on the night. The Orange were led by Cooney and Roberson (15), along with Gbinije (14) and Malachi Richardson (10). Artis led the Panthers with 18, followed by Michael Young (15), Jeter (11) and Chris Jones (10).

The Orange are now just 2-10 in games held at the ‘Pete’. They dropped last year’s contest at Pitt 83-77.

Coming Attractions

The Orange continues the ACC schedule with another tough matchup as it travels to face the No. 13 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh will squeeze in one more non-conference opponent as it hosts Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 4:00 p.m.

Jamie Dixon quote from

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Multiple Double Digit Scores Give Syracuse the Victory

Story by Brian Armstrong

Photo by Ellen Burr 

Syracuse N.Y.—  In a game that had fans calling for and getting free tacos for their tickets and the Syracuse walk-ons getting a minute and a half of playing time, the Syracuse men's basketball team wrapped up its ninth win of the season three days ahead of Christmas.

Five Syracuse players scored in double digits Tuesday night as Syracuse beat  Montana State 82-60 at the Carrier Dome with  in the seventh home game of the season.

"I thought in the first half we were unbelievably defensive and in the second half we were unbelievable on the offensive end," interim head coach Mike Hopkins said.

The Orange (9-3) won its second game in a row on the back of a strong second half of shooting and overall poor shooting from the Bobcats (5-7.) Montana State has now lost three straight.

Poor first half shooting 
Both teams trudged through the first half with a woeful shooting display. Syracuse went 11-31 from the floor and Montana State made just 7-33.

Both teams struggled, particularly from deep, as the teams combined for 5 of 29. Montana State went 2-16 with Syracuse making just one more on three fewer attempts.

Syracuse went into the locker room at the half with a 14-point lead, 31-17.

Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije and Montana State’s Sarp Gobeloglu were tied for most points at the half with seven.

Coming Out Hot
Syracuse came out firing in the second half, making its first five shots from the floor.

The Orange took advantage of the shorter Bobcats, getting the ball to center Dajuan Coleman, who had a season-high 13 points. He scored five of his 13 during that early second half run, going 2-2 from the floor and 1-1 from the line.

"Coleman did a great job of taking his time and being patient in the post," Hopkins said. "Going five for five in twelve minutes is pretty incredible.” 

Coleman scored the first points of the second half, just as he had in the first.

“Scoring (to start each half) gets me in the flow of the game and just gives me confidence,” Coleman said. “Really it just makes my confidence go up and makes me want to shoot more."

Malachi Richardson and Gbinije also added in a basket apiece during the stretch without a miss.

Montana State’s shooting improved considerably in the second half going over 50 percent making 16 of 31.  It was too little too late, however, when combined with the lead Syracuse had from the first half and the solid shooting for the Orange in the second half.

The Orange went just 4 of 12 from deep however, the team made three of its first four from behind the 3- point line. Syracuse shot 56 percent for the half and 33 percent from the arc. As a team Syracuse made 21 of 37.

Double digit scorers
In a game when eight players scored in double figures, Syracuse had five.

Not only did Coleman join the frequent scoring column names of Gbinije (17), Trevor Cooney (12)and  Tyler Lydon (10), but the fifth player in double figures was seldom-used center Chinonso Obokoh. The 6'9" junior had a career high 12 points.

“I was walking and pacing before the game," Hopkins said. "I knew that I wanted to try and get Chino in.”

He wound up playing 12 minutes and it was Obokoh's basket with 3:42 left that put Syracuse at 75 points, making game tickets good for a free taco. Fans in the sparsely populated Dome (17,202 announced attendance) had been chanting, "We want tacos" for some time.
Montana State had three players who scored in double figures.  Gobeloglu, who led the team in scoring, had 13, Tyler Hall, 12 and Marcus Colbert, 10.

Game Notes
This game was just the second time these teams have faced-off. Syracuse has won both meetings with the first being in the first round of the NCAA tournament back in 1996. The Orange won that game 88-55.

Despite the Bobcats shooting over 50 percent in the second half they still shot under 36 percent for the game.

Tyler Lydon had four blocks; more than Montana State's players combined (2.) One of Lydon’s blocks was on a three-point attempt that ended up four rows into the stands.  

“I’m like making a block as well as draining a three,” Lydon said. "I’m not sure which I like more... whichever one gives us more momentum.”

Hopkins put five walk-ons in with 1:29 left in the game. Freshman Ky Feldman, a Newhouse School student from the Los Angeles area had the final basket of the game, a layup with :01 left.

Look Ahead
Syracuse will be taking on Texas Southern (1-9) at the Carrier Dome on December 27. Texas Southern is on a five- game losing streak.  This game will mark the last game of non-conference game.

Montana State’s travels to Utah to play Southern Utah (3-7) on New Year's Eve.

Syracuse vs. Montana St. Photos

Syracuse, N.Y. -- Syracuse defeated Montana State 82-60 in a non-conference game at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. Here is a look at the game in photos by Ellen Burr including Newhouse grad students Brian Armstrong and Tim Ferguson covering the postgame. Click on any photo to start slide show.