Syracuse faced what some called its first real test of the season Friday when Monmouth visited the Carrier Dome, and the Orange passed with flying colors. The Orange led the whole way, and took off in the second half to take down the Hawks, 71-50.
The first half was a tight battle. Andrew White was on fire in the opening half. He scored 18 points to keep the Orange ahead going into the locker rooms, which was more than half of SU’s first-half points. Monmouth found ways to get into the paint and keep up with SU’s hot shooting, though, and the eight-point lead Syracuse took into halftime was its largest of the game.
In the second half, the Orange defense was too much for the Hawks. Monmouth shot just over 21 percent from the field and went 1-18 from behind the arc. The Orange forced nine second-half turnovers, and Monmouth ended the game with only one player in double-digits (Justin Robinson with 11).
Andrew White wouldn’t score in the second half, but he still led the Orange with 18 on the game. The biggest positive note for the Orange was Taurean Thompson. The freshman had the biggest night of his young career; scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting. He hit from inside and out, converting on and-ones and sinking jumpers from beyond the free throw line. If he can continue to shoot with that kind of consistency (okay, maybe not 83 percent), he’ll be a big piece for the Orange in ACC play.
Of course, it wasn’t all good news for the Orange. Monmouth outscored Syracuse in the paint, 32-16. The Hawks’ big men are better than what they’re given credit for, but there’s still no reason for a team to get that many points down low against the best 2-3 zone in the country. The Orange also committed 16 turnovers, one more than Monmouth and a number Jim Boeheim obviously wasn’t happy with. Tyler Lydon was quiet. He went 2-9 from the field and ended with six points.
The biggest downside for Syracuse may have been Thompson as well. He left the game in the second half with an injury to his left leg and was not able to put any pressure on it as he left the court. He will get precautionary x-rays tonight, according to Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota.
The Orange suits up again Tuesday to face South Carolina State in the Carrier Dome for its third game of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational, an event which has yet to be played in Brooklyn, does not fall on a holiday, and is not an invitational.