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Wednesday night against Cornell, Syracuse took a commanding 16-point lead in the first portion of the first half. It forced the Big Red — the fastest-paced team in Division I basketball before Wednesday’s game, per KenPom — into two shot clock violations during the first 10 minutes as well. The Orange controlled the boards and shot the basketball well, though not as well as it did Monday against Brown.
But Cornell cut away at Syracuse’s lead, trailing by just five at halftime and using a plethora of 3-pointers to get back into it. Behind a career-high 21 points from Cole Swider, the Orange still pulled away in the second half with their 41st consecutive win against the Big Red.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s (7-5, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) final nonconference game of the regular season, an 80-68 victory over Cornell (8-3, 0-0 Ivy League):
Jimmy Boeheim vs. his former team
For the 10th time in 12 games, Jimmy continued his pattern of scoring Syracuse’s first points, this time against his former team. Then, Jimmy backed down his defender in the paint and spun, dishing to Jesse Edwards for the dunk. That bucket gave SU a 10-point lead just seven minutes into the game.
Jimmy was there when Symir Torrence heaved a deep pass across the floor, finishing the fastbreak with a layup from the left side. He was there once more for a layup, and to swish a jump-shot that disrupted Cornell’s 11-2 first-half run.
Jimmy finished with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting, reaching double-digit points with two minutes remaining in the first half.
The forward walked off the floor and back to the locker room in the first half, gingerly holding his left shoulder after trying to snag an offensive board. But he returned in the second half, catching Joe Girard III’s vertical pass and finishing it with a dunk. And when Girard missed a long-range jumper, Jimmy was there for the offensive board and the right-handed tip.
Two tales of 3-point shooting
After starting 5-for-6 from beyond the arc against Brown on Monday — a game where Syracuse’s long-range shooting looked as good as it has this season — the Orange started out cold on Wednesday against Cornell.
In fact, both teams started a combined 0-of-13 from deep. SU bricked its first six attempts before moving the ball in the high post and then back out to Swider, who knocked down the first 3-pointer of the game to give his team a 17-2 lead.
When the 3-point shots didn’t start falling for SU early, the Orange generated points in the paint instead, working inside via Jimmy. Syracuse dominated the paint, notching 40 points in the paint to counteract a 6-of-20 performance from 3. And it used two Swider 3-pointers with about 14 minutes left in the game to reestablish its comfortable lead.
Cornell, on the other hand, knocked down eight 3-pointers after the slow start. SU got burned by a Nazir Williams deep shot moments before halftime. Keller Boothby, the leading 3-point shooter in Division I basketball before Wednesday’s game, drained three first-half 3-pointers. His efforts pulled Cornell within three points in the second half, and he finished with 20 points.
Eight of Syracuse’s first 10 points came off Cornell turnovers. Early on in the first half, Swider stepped into the lane and anticipated a Cornell pass, swiping the ball and then dishing to Buddy. The shooting guard drove down the floor and finished a right-handed layup. Then, moments later, Buddy notched a steal of his own on the perimeter when he deflected a predictable pass and converted another layup. Cornell had 11 first-half turnovers, leading to 15 Syracuse points.
But the Orange were just as sloppy with the ball, posting 11 first-half turnovers of their own. On one, Girard took his eyes off the ball as Buddy Boeheim dished him a routine pass. Later, Girard misplayed an inbound pass from the baseline that turned into a Cornell 3-pointer.
To open the second half, Buddy saved an errant pass that would’ve been a turnover, instead turning it into an Edwards dunk. SU had another five second-half turnovers.
Symir Torrence flashes vision, speed
On back-to-back possessions, Torrence drove down the floor and dished perfect passes to set up Syracuse’s scorers midway through the first half. First he tossed a high pass that Benny Williams was on the receiving end of for an electrifying dunk. Then he picked his head up and found Jimmy for a long-range pass. And though he turned the ball over on the next possession, he hustled back and recovered defensively with a big-time block.
Torrence displayed bursts of speed when carrying the ball up the floor, speed that particularly contrasts the way Girard plays. The backup point guard couldn’t finish when he drove, and had two consecutive turnovers which came in the second half but notched four assists in 14 minutes.
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