Is Syracuse becoming a second half team? One could definitely say that. Although the Orange got off to a quick start in the Carrier Dome last night, SU really turned up the pressure in the second half to pull away from an inferior opponent. This, of course, isn’t the first time that this has happened, as the Orange did the same against Cornell and St. John’s, although SU came up short at Madison Square Garden.
Against Cornell, the Orange led 30-26 heading into the break. However, after halftime, SU outscored the Big Red by 17 en route to a blowout against the school’s longtime rival. While Syracuse increased its scoring in the second half, what really helped was the increased focus on team defense and rebounding.
It was much of the same story for SU on Tuesday night. Although the Orange was in control of the game from the opening tip, it was still a tale of two halves, despite Chinoso Obokoh, Franklin Howard, and Kaleb Joseph playing significant minutes. Syracuse led 31-17 at half after shooting 35 percent from the floor. But after the break, SU came out firing and went 11-for-14 to open the second half, bottling up any doubts.
SU boasted balanced scoring against a very undersized Montana State team, as five players scored in double digits. Coleman poured in a season-high 13 points as he abused the Bobcats’ ‘bigs,’ while Chinoso Obokoh scored a career-high 11 points off of the bench. Before Tuesday’s game, Obokoh had only scored 11 career points between his freshman and sophomore seasons. While fans shouldn’t expect production from Obokoh off the bench, Coleman’s resurgence in the last few games must be a relief for the coaching staff heading into ACC play. However, as SU plays against bigger teams starting with Pittsburgh and Miami, it will be interesting to see how Coleman adapts.
Other storylines in this game included nine team blocks, led by Tyler Lydon with four. For someone who is criticized for not being big enough to play the middle of the zone, Lydon is averaging a little less than 2.5 blocks per game, which is among the nation’s leaders. Trevor Cooney also had a very efficient night by his standards, hitting 40 percent of his shots. Lastly, SU struggled from the free throw line again (11-of-24, 46 percent), which is becoming an unhealthy trend.
The Orange will take on Texas Southern in its non-conference finale on Sunday before venturing out into a very tough ACC schedule. Remember to follow the Fizz @OrangeFizz on Twitter for SU basketball coverage.