Syracuse started its two-game exhibition slate with a 79-60 win over Pace.
In a game many expected SU to treat like a practice, the Orange displayed a plethora of their strong suits in the first half.
On offense, Syracuse came out the gates firing. Four SU players knocked down a three, with Buddy Boeheim and Cole Swider each cashing in a trio from distance. Freshman Benny Williams and Marquette transfer Symir Torrence looked impressive driving to the basket, while Jesse Edwards was active around the rim. The ball flew around the perimeter with plenty of pace and after surrendering a few turnovers, the Orange cleaned up their act with 13 transition points and a 53% clip from the field.
SU also found its stride defensively. Edwards rejected a pair of shots in the first five minutes, while the tandem of Swider and Jimmy Boeheim were extremely active at the bottom of the 2-3 zone. Those two played a huge role in the Orange’s six first half steals. Although Pace is a division two program, Syracuse did well grabbing rebounds, forcing untimely shots and moving to the ball. The Orange even forced three shot clock violations in the process.
Where SU needs to improve is defending without fouling. Syracuse fell victim to numerous reach-in and backcourt fouls that’ll plague them more down the road.
Overall, it was a productive first 20 for the Orange.
The second half was much of the same. Although Edwards took more of a stranglehold down in the paint. The center blocked his third shot and utilized his height to nab six more points. His 12 total ranked third on the team in scoring, which is a great sign against a Pace team that lacks size.
But the story was the status of Buddy Boeheim. The senior limped to the bench within the first four minutes and went to the locker room holding his left shoe in his hand. Luckily, the Fayetteville native returned to the bench with a smile on his face just minutes later. Boeheim’s left ankle was wrapped in an ice bag moments after.
Swider finished with a game-high 21 points. Jimmy followed suit with 19 of his own, including 12 in the second half. The entire team shot the ball efficiently, to the tune of 55% from the field and 42% from distance. Plus, SU’s unselfishness shined with 26 assists on 30 made baskets.
Fizz Nation, keep an eye out for turnovers and missed free throws with this group. SU turned the ball over 14 times despite facing division two pressure, and shot 8-of-21 from the free-throw line. The defense also looked shaky in the second half.
Takeaways from SU’s first exhibition game:
- Cole Swider is a clear threat from distance (5-for-7 from three-point range) and adds a different dimension to an already stacked shooting backcourt. Plus, his length is unmatched on both sides of the ball. He can attack the rim with ease and create problems in the zone.
- Jesse Edwards is the clear starting center, even when Bourama Sidibe ultimately returns. Frank Anselem is an okay option but still needs to perform well in the non-conference slate in order to pass the eye test.
- The length on this team is apparent. Swider is a true 6’9″, while Williams uses all of his 6’8″ frame on both sides of the ball. Even Jimmy Boeheim looked all of 6’8″ and 225 pounds in a standout game for the Cornell transfer. In fact, Williams and Boeheim finished with a combined 16 of SU’s 38 rebounds.
- Buddy Boeheim is Buddy Boeheim (expect nothing less), but also realize, Pace is Pace (it’ll only get tougher).
The Orange close out their exhibition openers with a Monday contest against Le Moyne. Game time is set for 7.