SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — From the perspective of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, it didn’t really look like his team was hitting the gas pedal on offense in the second half against Colgate on Wednesday night.
Then again, compared to the team’s performance in the first half, almost anything would have been an improvement.
Tyus Battle scored 24 points and Elijah Hughes and Oshae Brissett added 17 each to lead Syracuse past Colgate 77-56 in the Carrier Dome, snapping a two-game losing streak that had dropped the Orange from the national rankings.
The Orange led just 35-32 at halftime after shooting just 12 for 34 overall and 2 of 10 from 3-point range. But after trailing the Raiders 43-41 with 16:15 remaining in the game, Syracuse closed with a 36-13 run. Syracuse hit 14 of 26 field goals in the second half, including 5 for 10 from long range.
“You have to make shots. The way we shot in the first half, we were fortunate to be able to get the lead,” Boeheim said. “We missed seven or eight layups right around the basket (in the first half). We’ve got to make those. The second half, it looks like we made a lot of shots, which we really didn’t. When you’re not making any shots, making a few helps.”
Bourama Sidibe led Syracuse (3-2) on the boards with 10 rebounds as the Orange claimed a 46-30 edge on the glass.
Jordan Burns and Will Rayman paced Colgate (4-2) with 13 points apiece. The Raiders hung in with Syracuse in the first half on the strength of an 8-for-23 effort from 3-point range. But the Orange clamped down to limit Colgate to 4 for 17 from long range in the second half. The Raiders managed just six field goals in the game that weren’t 3-pointers, and at one stretch went 12 minutes in the second half without a field goal.
“Obviously, they made some adjustments in the zone in the second half and took away some of the things that we were able to do in the first half,” said Raiders coach Matt Langel. “And we weren’t able to make some adjustments after that. We didn’t get the ball behind the zone quite like we needed to. They left some of the interior options open and we weren’t able to capitalize on those.”
Battle helped SU take control with 16 second-half points.
“He’s a scorer. His first step, I think, is elite,” Langel said.
Battle also hit all three of his 3-pointers after going just 1-for-11 from that range in the team’s first four games.
“I just stepped up and took them with confidence. That’s really it,” he said. “I’m not going to stop shooting them. I knew they were going to start falling.”
Orange guard Frank Howard, who had been sidelined since September with an ankle injury, saw his first action of the season. He got the start and hit the Orange’s first basket of the game, a 3-pointer, at the 1:07 mark. Those were his only points on a 1-for-5 shooting night, although he paced Syracuse with five assists in 19 minutes of play.
“It’s good to have Frank back. He made a couple really smart plays to start the second half,” Boeheim said. “When you haven’t played in eight weeks, it’s very hard.”
Colgate: The Raiders should be heartened by their effort, validating what had been the school’s first 4-1 start since 2007.
Syracuse: The Orange, ranked 16th in the preseason, fought past a pesky opponent to pick up some much-needed momentum after dropping a pair of games to Connecticut and No. 21 Oregon in the Empire Classic in New York. Syracuse was 2-2 to start a season for the first time since 1987-88.
ANOTHER KEY INJURY?
After finally getting Howard back, Syracuse could be looking at the loss of another integral piece. Center Pascal Chukwu left the game in the first half with what looked like a thigh injury and did not return. Boeheim did not have an update. Chukwu played four minutes and did not score.
The Orange has played Colgate more than any other foe in history (171 times) and has won the last 53 meetings.
Colgate tries to regain the momentum of its early season surge against another difficult foe, Siena, on Saturday. Colgate’s last win in the series with Syracuse was a 67-63 victory in 1962.
Syracuse immediately tests whether its bounce-back performance on Wednesday has staying power by jumping into the ACC-Big 10 Challenge at Ohio State on Nov. 28. The Buckeyes just moved into the AP Top 25, at No. 23.
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