SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse was coming off consecutive nonconference home losses for the first time since 1979-80.
Down 11 midway through the first half, with a restless Carrier Dome crowd watching, the Orange appeared to be on their way to making history — in a bad way.
But Syracuse turned on the pressure, outscoring Arkansas State 67-26 the rest of the way, en route to an 82-52 win. Syracuse overwhelmed Arkansas State in the second half, 44-16, forcing 13 turnovers and limiting the Red Wolves to 5-of-25 from the field.
“We didn’t have good movement against their defense (in the first half),” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We took a couple of bad shots. I thought they were attacking us better. We adjusted to that. We can’t play better defense than that (in the second half).”
Elijah Hughes and Tyus Battle had 17 points apiece to lead the Orange (8-4). The loss snapped Arkansas State’s modest winning streak at two.
Oshae Brissett, who had just one point in the first half, added 15 for Syracuse. Center Paschal Chukwu, who came in off the bench as Boeheim shook up his starting lineup, had a season-high13 rebounds.
Ty Cockfield led the Red Wolves (5-7) with 17 points. Grantham Gillard had 10.
Syracuse trailed the heavy-underdog Red Wolves for virtually the entire first half, trailing 26-15 with 9:32 to go, but Syracuse closed the half on a 23-10 run to take a 38-36 lead. Battle’s 3 with 2:25 left gave Syracuse a 35-33 advantage, the Orange’s first lead since going up 2-0.
Hughes had eight points and Brissett seven to trigger a 15-3 run for Syracuse to start the second half, extending its lead to 50-39. The Red Wolves shot 48 percent in the first half but went 1-of-12 from the field in the first eight minutes after halftime.
“I thought for the first 20 minutes we executed the game plan to perfection. We tried to use the clock as much as possible and not turn the ball over,” Arkansas State coach Mike Balado said.
“In the second half I think we tried to rush it a little bit when they went on a little run and then we turned it over,” he added. “We took some chances in the second half, things we did not work on, guys trying to break off plays, and next thing you know we end up with 17 turnovers. I think that was the key to the game.”
“We got them off their heels,” Brissett said. “Once we were pushing the ball and scoring it helped our defense. We got more confidence and we stopped them from scoring.”
Syracuse was a blistering 15 of 28 in the second half.
Boeheim said his team has a long way to go.
“Overall, we’re not there,” he said. “We’ve got three or four days of practice when we get back (from Christmas break), a game, then four or five days of practice after that. So, I think we can get there but we’re obviously a long way away right now.”
Cockfield, on the other hand, was encouraged.
“We can take confidence away from this. There are some great things we can take from this game.”
E FOR EFFICIENCY:
Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes had 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He also had three assists and six rebounds.
Jim Boeheim said he wasn’t sending a message by starting Marek Dolezaj over Paschal Chukwu. Whatever it was, it worked as Chukwu had his best effort of the season. Six of his 13 rebounds were on the offensive end.
Syracuse shot 18 more free throws than Arkansas State, going 27-of-33 from the line. Coach Mike Balado said his team needs to be more aggressive and get to the line more.
Syracuse sophomore guard Howard Washington, who suffered a torn ACL last year, will miss the remainder of the year as a medical redshirt.
Arkansas State: The Red Wolves had to be encouraged by their first-half performance, building an 11-point lead, which could be a sign of good things to come.
Syracuse: The Orange had one of their better halves to pull away but they remain enigmatic on offense. Point guard Frank Howard has to return to last year’s form.
Arkansas State hosts Harding next Saturday.
Syracuse closes out its seven-game homestand next Saturday against St. Bonaventure.