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Syracuse Snaps Non-Conference Skid in 95-66 win over Oakland

Syracuse Basketball

After snapping a three-game losing streak in South Bend, the Orange returned home and did the same against non-conference opponents, dominating Oakland 95-66.

It wasn’t always pretty from the jump. Chris Bell lost the ball within the first two minutes and was pulled for Justin Taylor. Jesse Edwards notched his first foul four minutes in, relinquishing his aggressive presence at the rim for the rest of the half, especially on the defensive end. In the first ten minutes, Oakland freshman Trey Townsend drained seven shots for 14 points. Add Syracuse shooting three of its first nine from downtown and the Orange were on the stairway to a close game at the half.

Then this moment changed the complexity of the game.

Bell’s dunk sent the Dome into a frenzy, while subsequently sending Oakland into a tailspin. The Golden Grizzlies failed to score from that point on. So, the Orange took full advantage, causing four turnovers and scoring 18 straight points. Joe Girard contributed eight of those tallies, finishing with 15 at the break and a much more efficient clip from downtown compared to recent games.

Jesse Edwards played cautious with a foul in his back pocket, but it didn’t affect his scoring output. The senior made all six of his shots and entered the locker room with 12 points. By far the most impressive part of the first half was SU’s shot selection. The Orange overshadowed a five-of-15 first half clip from distance by distributing the ball efficiently and shooting 15-of-20 inside the arc. The ‘Cuse assisted on 13 of them of the 20 shots made.

It was a near perfect first half thanks to the crew of Girard, Edwards, John Bol Ajak (six rebounds and three assists in eight minutes), Taylor and Mintz that closed it out. The defense was stellar too. Syracuse held Oakland to 36% from the field and a dismal one-of-13 from distance in the first 20 minutes.

Perfection was followed by question marks entering the second half. Bell, who played the first three minutes of the first half, was pulled just 29 seconds into the second frame. Did the freshman commit a silly foul after he failed to slide at the bottom of the zone? Yes. But it’s clear that the lenience surrounding Bell is similar to how Benny Williams was treated last season. Either way, how long will Jim Boeheim allow this dark cloud to hang over one of his best recruit’s head?

The second half was littered with formalities. Oakland made two shots in the first minute and a half before failing to make a field goal in the next seven minutes. Maliq Brown shined for SU, playing more than four minutes for the first time since the opening game at the Barclays Center. The freshman utilized his minutes well, scoring 12 points and nabbing seven rebounds.

But the overarching story was the seniors. Girard and Edwards checked out three minutes into the second half, each leaving the floor with 18 points. SU’s 6’11 center sat down with a perfect nine-for-nine shooting night under his belt. The Glens Falls native sat 11 seats down with seven-of-ten made buckets on his ledger. That includes four-of-seven from long range, more threes than he made in the previous four games combined. But where Girard impressed was his ability to dish the ball to his teammates. The shooting guard racked up a season-high six assists.

Syracuse impressed in all facets of the game after a lackluster first 14 minutes. The Orange assisted on 27 of 42 made buckets and four SU players scored in double figures. On the defensive side, Syracuse stalled Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies to just 38% shooting from the field and an abysmal five-of-25 from three-point range.

Unfortunately, no walk-on scored and instead, Oakland closed out the game on a 15-2 run. But an overall dominant performance to snap Syracuse’s three-game non-conference skid. Now the ‘Cuse prepare for an old Big East rivalry against Georgetown on Saturday.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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