Sixteen points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block in 29 minutes of action. Not a bad debut for true freshman Chris McCullough in Syracuse’s 89-42 win over Kennesaw State. Despite being his first regular season game in a Syracuse uniform, there weren’t any nerves from the 6-foot-10 forward.
Those were taken care of well before he took the floor Friday night.
”It’s pretty great,” McCullough said. “It’s a pretty great team win. I think the first exhibition game, that was really my first game. That’s when it started for me. Everybody says this is the first game, but that exhibition game was the first one to me.
”I just came out ready to play. I think Orange Madness made me more comfortable. But the exhibition games were good. I was nervous then, but I’m good now.”
McCullough was strong for Syracuse, especially in the first half when he poured in 11 of his 16 points. He scored out of the low post, seeing a lot of touches in the paint, hit a couple of jumpers and even drove the lane to attack the basket.
The only think he did not do offensively in his introduction to Orange fans was throw down a monster dunk, though he was close on a couple of occasions.
”Hopefully next game I’ll dunk over someone,” McCullough said. “It’s hard for me. I have knee problems, no one really knows that. But I’ll try next game.”
Not only was McCullough strong offensively, but he was physical on the boards as he notched his first career double-double. Given his play and physical abilities, he is sure to rack those up as the season progresses.
McCullough also improved on the defensive end, using his elite wingspan to disrupt Kennesaw State’s offensive flow, deflect passes, create steals and block a shot. The combination of effort, athleticism and talent was on full display.
He should be a big weapon for Syracuse on both ends of the floor this season.
There was a downside to McCullough’s performance, however. He was only 6-14 shooting, in large part because he did not finish around the rim in the first half, missing several layups.
”I think for me, I just have to stay low,” McCullough said. “Use my legs. I play high sometimes so I just have to stay low and use my legs and I’ll be fine.”
His head coach agrees.
“[Chris] McCullough was good tonight. He just has to finish around the basket. He just has to get used to being around there. It takes time. He is active. He gets his hands on balls, because he’s long.”