Syracuse Tops UNF 77-71 in Unexpectedly Tight Game
By KJ Vaughn
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Men’s Basketball welcomed the University of North Florida to the Dome on Saturday. The Ospreys made the trip from Jacksonville, Florida coming off a big loss to the University of Florida in its last game and sitting at 3-6 on the season.
The Orange meanwhile returned home from the road trip to Wisconsin, sporting a 4-2 record after being handed its second straight loss in Madison.
After a riveting National Anthem sang by Talyse Hampton got the crowd cheering, the Orange and Ospreys were all set to square off on the wooden battle ground known as Jim Boeheim Court. Coach Boeheim shook up the starting lineup inserting Tyus Battle over Tyler Roberson.
Syracuse won the tip, and would start the game off on back-to-back three’s from Andrew White III to build an early 6-2 lead. After Tyus Battle got in on the three action, White III went back to work and hit another three to build the ‘Cuse lead to 17-7 with just under 12 minutes left in the 1st half.
A big dunk from Tyler Lydon, off an assist from John Gillon, excited the Carrier Dome and built Syracuse’s lead to 20-9 halfway through the first half. A layup by the Osprey’s Garret Sams and a three by Nick Malonga started a 7-0 run for UNF to pull it to within four, 20-16 with just under five minutes left in the first half.
Throughout the first half, UNF seemed content to pass the ball around outside the 3-point line and did not try and penetrate the zone that much. It also looked to get the three ball going, but struggled going just 3 for 20 from behind the arc.
On the other side the Orange were feeling it from downtown, shooting over 50% for the half on three pointers. In particular Andrew White III was on fire scoring all his points from behind the arc hitting 5 of his 8 three pointers. The score was 34-23 at the break in favor of ‘Cuse.
Tyus Battle would get SU going out of the break on a fast break dunk, receiving a great pass from Howard who added his eighth assist of the night on the pass, to increase its lead to 37-23. The break did not slow the hot hand of White III, who drained another deep ball to further increase ‘Cuse’s lead to 40-23.
After that, White III ventured inside for the first time all night and hit a layup to push the lead to 42-25 early in the 2nd half. DaJuan Coleman put ‘Cuse up by over 20 points on dunk and received a huge cheer from the crowd when he subbed out of the game.
Syracuse would be up 56-35 with under 12 minutes left in the game after another Tyus Battle three was followed by a three from UNF’s Dallas Moore. With just under 10 minuets left in the game, SU’s Taurean Thompson would be whistled for a technical foul after arguing a controversial out of bounce call along the baseline.
The Osprey’s would take advantage as Moore would hit both free throws and make it 58-44 SU. A little while later a Wijad Aminu two brought UNF to within 14 points with six minutes remaining in the game.
A string of three’s from UNF cut the SU lead to 68-61 with four minutes remaining in the game. DaJuan Coleman would respond with an old fashioned three point play to put Syracuse back on top by 10 with just over three minuets to play.
Dallas Moore and the Ospreys would not go away quietly, as it pulled within five with just under a minute to play. Ultimately, Syracuse would win the game that did not look at all like it was shaping up to be a such a close affair, by a score of 77-71.
After the game Coach Boeheim stressed the importance of a good bench performance. “We’ve got to be able to come in off the bench and help. You don’t have to be a star but you have to help, you have to play defense and rebound.”
The team currently stands at 5-2 on the season as they move into the tougher part of their schedule. Syracuse plays UConn next, this Monday, December 5th, at Madison Square Garden. Game time is slated for 7 P.M.