For the first 13 minutes of Thursday's game between No. 1 Syracuse and then 11-1 Tulane, it was an exciting back-and-fourth affair. Both squads looked to take shots early in the clock, and the score stood at 22-19.
The speed of the Green Wave gave the Orange fits, and the No. 1 team in the land didn't help its cause with rushed perimeter shots.
Then Syracuse decided it would take shots from long range, all on open looks.
During the surge, coach Jim Boeheim elected to utilize the press to force a turnover to spark the momentum.
The close game ended up as a 41-19 laugher by the break.
" We executed very well in the first half," coach Boeheim said. "We took control of the game."
It wasn't just offense that got going for Syracuse during the run, the defense was stout on the inside and forced the Green Wave to settle for outside shots. The result for the Conference USA leaders was 24 percent shooting clip in the first 20 minutes. Tulane made just one shot – a Kendall Timmons three-pointer – in the final 12 minutes of first-half action.
"Defense," said Dion Waiters, who led the team with 15 points on the night. "First and foremost.
"Anybody on this team could score."
Waiters was on to something as six players finished with at least seven points in the win.
The second half was a different style. Both teams got into foul trouble early in the period, and the free-throw fest began. Though Tulane would convert more freebies (20 to SU's 18), it never got the score closer than 15 points in the final 20 minutes.
Syracuse would get the lead up to 25 with just over two minutes left in the ball game, with freshmen Michael Carter-Williams running the point and Rakeem Christmas at center. The small lineup enabled Syracuse to run and get to the hoop effectively.
Soon after the final push, Boeheim cleared the bench and allowed 18 total players to see floor time before the clock read zeros.
"It's always good to see these guys get an opportunity to go out there," Joseph said of the players on the end of the bench. "I think we do a good job of that."