The Syracuse Orangemen put the college basketball world back on its proper axis last night with a thorough beating of LeMoyne College, 91-48 in the Carrier Dome. The 43 point victory did not erase last years embarrassing loss to the small cross town college, however it did relieve any awkwardness that may result from bumping into LeMoyne basketball players at local Chipotle's restaurants.
Four players scored in double figures for the Orangemen, with James Southerland, Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine each scoring 13 points to lead Syracuse. Kris Joseph chipped in 12 points on 4-5 shooting from the floor, including 2-2 from three in just 18 minutes of action. Rick Jackson grabbed a team high 9 rebounds and added 3 points on just 1-7 shooting from the floor.
Syracuse freshman Fab Melo played 17 minutes scoring 6 points on 3 of 7 shooting, grabbed 8 total rebounds (6 offensive), blocked 2 shots with 1 steal and committed 3 fouls in the first 8 minutes of the game.
Speaking of the freshman, after struggling in the first half, Dion Waiters looked much better in the second half of action. He finished with a team high 13 points on 4 of 10 shooting, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and just one turnover in 23 minutes of action. Waiters was also 1-2 from three and played with much more confidence in the 2nd half after knocking down some early jumpers.
After scoring 14 points in the first exhibition game and energizing the Carrier Dome with a pair of big dunks, C.J. Fair contributed 6 points and 3 rebounds going 1 of 3 from the floor in 16 minutes of action. Fair was 4-4 from the charity stripe and showed good positioning and court awareness during his time on the floor.
Finally, Baye Moussa Keita is continuing to impress. In 17 minutes of action Keita grabbed 5 rebounds, scored 6 points and was a perfect 2-2 from the foul line. Keita also blocked 2 shots and got his hands on a lot of loose balls, although didn't always come down with them. Keita knocked down a nice jumper from the corner as well and finished 2-2 from the floor. While his handle isn't spectacular, his positioning and ability to run the floor is impressive. Baye Moussa Keita will only improve as the year goes on, and could be an important role player this season.
James Southerland had an impressive night shooting the rock. Southerland was 5 of 8 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from three, with just two boards. After an 11 rebound effort against Kutztown it is a significant difference, however it could be chalked up to James focusing on his shooting game. At 6'8" 205 pounds I'd like to see Southerland get the ball at the perimeter and drive the lane, maybe even develop some low-post moves given his size, however his stroke from 3 was smooth on this night.
Brandon Triche had an up and down game, scoring 9 points and dishing out 3 assists in 19 minutes. However, Triche committed 4 turnovers, including two on back-to-back possessions. He did throw down one monstrous dunk and grabbed 7 rebounds for the Orangemen.
An area of Syracuse's game that needs improvement is the full court press. LeMoyne broke the press each time the Orangemen deployed it, seemingly with ease. For a division II school to break the press so effortlessly, it clearly needs some work. As does Mookie Jones' shot selection. He continued to put up 3-pointers from all over the floor, however he did manage to knock down 3 of 5 from long range on this night. Mookie Jones finished with 9 points in 18 minutes and grabbed 3 boards along with 1 block.
Chris Johnson, who knocked down the game winning three for LeMoyne last season, had another big game in the Dome. In 37 minutes of action Johnson finished 8 of 14 from the floor (6 of 10 from three), for 23 of LeMoyne's 48 total points. Johnson also grabbed 3 rebounds and 3 steals for another fine performance in the Carrier Dome.
The Orangemen were impressive again from the charity stripe. After going a perfect 13 for 13 in the exhibition game against Kutztown, Syracuse followed it up with a 14 of 17 performance. That combines for a whopping 90% from the foul line for the team during the exhibition schedule.
Syracuse's regular season schedule starts on Friday when the Orangemen host Northern Iowa. Northern Iowa knocked off Kansas in the NCAA tournament last season and will be a good test for Syracuse. The game tips-off at 7PM and can be watched live on ESPN3.
photo courtesy of syracuse.com