The Orange turn on in the second half to topple the Seahawks in their home-opener for the 2012-13…
Syracuse was the first team on the board, leading for almost the entire first seven minutes of the game, before going down 13-11 by the 13-minute mark.
From there, the Orange would tie the game within the next minute and take the lead, something they would never allow to be back in the hands of the Seahawks.
Nine Syracuse players that contributed in both the first and second halves contributed points with head coach Jim Boeheim opening up the bench even more to end the game, as the Orange took a 13-point lead at halftime and turned it into a 31-point victory, 88-57, in front of a crowd of 17,273.
The guards. Brandon Triche led the backcourt and the entire Orange squad with 21 points in the win, but he did struggle at times to get the ball in the cylinder. He started off slow, missing two lay-up opportunities in the first half and six of his ten attempts overall. He was also cold in The Opening half from deep, missing all four of his three-point attempts. However, his effort on the court could not be understated, as he grabbed five rebounds, three on the offensive side, and attained an assist before halftime.
In the second half, Triche doubled his made shots, connecting on all four of his attempts, while grabbing another board on both the offensive and defensive sides to go with another assist, as the Orange blew the game open.
Michael Carter-Williams also had trouble getting his shots to fall early, missing all three of his first half attempts to head into the half scoreless. Despite not scoring, he aided the offense with his four defensive rebounds, two of which turned into four points for Syracuse. Carter-Williams had three assists total in the opening half, along with a steal and a block. Triche was unable to capitalize on the Carter-Williams steal as well as the block.
During the latter half, Carter-Williams got on the board with two made shots to go with two successful free throw attempts, but where the young guard helped the Orange the most was with his ability to find opportunities for others. Carter-Williams' 11 assists were a single-game career high.
Boeheim spoke on Carter-William's ability to play the point, including how his teammates did not finish at times on opportunities that he provided them, saying, "I thought he really played like a point guard today. He really got the ball to people. I thought he did a really good job of that, finding people. He had 11 assists. He probably coulda had 15 or 16 if we made a couple jump shots."
In his first career regular season game at the Carrier Dome, Trevor Cooney showed that he could walk with the talk of him being valuable from deep, connecting from deep in the first and second half with shots that graced the net. But Cooney went beyond that, illustrating that he can do much more than simply make shots from deep. Cooney battled inside in the first half on a possession where he was fronted by the Wagner defense and powered his shot up as well as tipped his miss in. He also shined on the defensive end, taking possession away from the Seahawks with six steals. Cooney's first steal led to Triche tying the game at 13-13 early on after the Orange gave up their lead early in the game by the 13-minute mark. A steal in the second half led to Cooney finding his other teammate in the backcourt, Michael Carter-Williams; Cooney stayed with the ball, jumping to block an attempt and then getting on the ground to push the ball forward to Carter-Williams while he laid flat out. Carter-Williams would elevate for the transition dunk off of Cooney's assist and steal. Cooney ended the game with three assists total to go with his tenacious play on defense.
"I thought Trevor did a good job," remarked Boeheim. "He was very good defensively. I think that was the most impressive part…he got some loose balls, a couple really good steals."
The forwards. James Southerland led all Orange in this position and was second overall only to Triche, the fellow senior for Syracuse. " James [Southerland] has got the capabilities of coming in and giving us a big boost coming off the bench," said Boeheim. Known for his outside shooting, Southerland only attained one make in four tries from deep versus Wagner. But, Southerland stressed before the season that now without the likes of Dion Waiters, Scoop Jardine, and Kris Joseph on the team, he can play his style-of-play can now become outside-in instead of what the inside-out style that people have become accustomed to from Southerland during his time at Syracuse.
Southerland got started right away, connecting on a jumper immediately after entering the game as the first sub off the Syracuse bench at about the 16:30 mark of the opening half. He would then get his own rebound off his missed attempt from deep and come away with another two points. Southerland would also provide opportunities for his teammates off blocks, steals, and defensive rebounds. Unfortunately for the Orange, they did not capitalize on every opportunity given to them by their senior forward with one of Southerland's blocks and two of his defensive rebounds amounting to nothing at the opposite end.
Despite being involved in so many different areas, Southerland left the game wanting more of himself when it came to rebounds.
Southerland's teammates C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas combined to equal Southerland's output of 15 points, with Fair providing seven and Christmas contributing eight. Fair made an imprint on the defensive side, where he grabbed four rebounds, blocked two shots, and stole possession from Wagner twice. Christmas was an opportunist, grabbing four rebounds on defense and three on offense to create new possessions as well as continuing drives for the Orange.
Newcomer Jerami Grant, in his first regular season in the Carrier Dome like Cooney, had a quiet offensive outing with five points, but helped set up his teammates with two assists and equaled fellow forward, Christmas', output with four defensive rebounds.
At center. Baye Keita put on a defensive and offensive clinic in the game. Known as primarily a defensive player, Keita displayed otherwise, with 15 points on a perfect outing where he made all six of his attempts. Even more impressive for Keita is the fact that he scored all 15 of his points in the latter half of the match.
His inside presence against Wagner was aided by the backcourt, with Carter-Williams and Cooney finding Keita, who consistently had good positioning close to the rim, for high-percentage opportunities. Cooney's drive and pass overtop of the defense to Keita as well as Southerland's decision to dish to Keita while underneath the basket showed the quick attack ability of the Orange offense, and Keita's overall play displayed that he has worked on his hands in receiving passes and doing something with the ball once he has it.
Keita added three free throws on four attempts, an important characteristic of his game, as most centers struggle to connect from the charity stripe.
DaJuan Coleman, also playing in his first regular season home game as a member of the Orange, struggled to score, amounting a mere three points, while also leading Syracuse in turnovers with five. But, while Coleman took some opportunities away from the Orange, he also provided some with seven rebounds, one on offense and the rest on the defensive end.
Overall on offense. Syracuse improved from the first half to the second half, making 36.1% of their shots to open and 67.9% to close. Shooting almost 70% in the latter half was aided by inside play, which brought the Orange to a 50% overall shooting performance against Wagner.
The team also elevated their makes from three-point range from 10% in the first half to 44.4% in the second half, but ultimately struggled from deep, connecting on a mere five of their 19 attempts for a 26.3% performance from beyond the arc.
"Offensively, we were a little in and out, really had some good opportunities in the first half, had some really good looks and didn't make ‘em," Boeheim stated. "Second half, we did. It's a lot easier when those jump shots go in, looks a lot better."
At the line, Syracuse also advanced from half to half, shooting 64.3% in the opening half, followed by 76.9% in the latter half, to make about 70% of their freebies in the match.
The Orange beat the Seahawks in every category offensively, except for turnovers, where Syracuse had 18 to Wagner's 23. The Orange had more offensive rebounds, 15 to 13, as well as assists, 20 to 11.
Overall on defense. Syracuse had the advantage on Wagner in every category outside of personal fouls, where the Orange had 14 to the Seahawks' 22. Syracuse had 14 steals to Wagners' 11, a 10-3 edge in blocks, and 11 more defensive rebounds, with 34 to the Seahawks' 23.
Boeheim had nothing to say negatively about the team's defensive effort. "The defense was good, the whole game," shared Boeheim. "I think we did a good job there."
Syracuse will stay home to face their third opponent of the season when the Princeton Tigers enter the Carrier Dome for a nighttime match-up at 7pm Eastern on Wednesday, November 21st.