It took a steal with 10 seconds to go and Syracuse up one by Chris McCullough for the Orange to sustain a lead that had dwindled from 12 to one during the last eight minutes for SU to pullout the 66-63 victory in the consolation game of the 2K Classic against Iowa.
“At the end of the game Chris made a great steal, came across in our trap and just made a great play,” Boeheim said. “That was the game. If he doesn’t make that play and come across and get that one, we don’t win.”
Syracuse(3-1) used another strong performance by Rakeem Christmas to stave off it’s second loss of the season for it’s third win of the year over Iowa. Christmas had 18 points and six rebounds on 7-11 shooting.
Iowa(2-2) had three players in double figures including big man Jarrod Uthoff who had 20 points on 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc, but shot only 2-12 as a team from three in the second half.
The Orange started the game just as they did in the loss to Cal yesterday, as Kaleb Joseph drew in the defense and dished it off to Rakeem Christmas for an easy dunk. It was two of Christmas’ 13 first half points. He picked up a foul early at the 17:59 mark, but was able to rack up 18 first half minutes after fouling out of yesterday’s loss with more than six minutes to play.
Coach Boeheim criticized his team after yesterday’s loss saying they need to do a better job of getting Christmas the ball in the paint. Christmas was second on the team tonight in field goals attempted with 11.
“We got the ball there and he finished there I thought,” Boeheim said. “I thought he was very good tonight.”
Iowa was able to stay in the game in the first half off of 4-9 shooting from 3-point range. Josh Oblesby came off the bench for the Hawkeyes and put in six points on 2-4 from three in the first half.
Trevor Cooney who has struggled this season so far from beyond the arc kept shooting and connected on two threes in the first half for the Orange.
The Orange opened up a 15 point lead eight minutes into the second half off a 15-2 run over a six minute span. Syracuse limited the Hawkeyes to 2-12 shooting from three in the second half. Iowa went through over a five minute span without scoring from 17:09 - 12:00.
“We did play that one good stretch, but then we gave it all right back,” Boeheim said. “I thought we were very fortunate.”
The Hawkeyes cut a 15 point Orange lead to three with just over four minutes to play when Jarrod Uthoff scored three of his game high 20 points off the assist from Mike Gesell.
After a Trevor Cooney turnover, one of two the Orange committed in the final three minutes, Aaron White’s dunk slashed the SU lead to 59-58.
After both teams traded baskets the store stood at 63-62 with 10 seconds left when Adam Woodbury’s attempted pass down low to Aaron White was picked off by Chris McCullough to virtually seal the game for the Orange.
“Iowa dropped two or three passes under the basket, they missed some open shots,” Boeheim said. “I just thought we were very fortunate tonight.”
Trevor Cooney, who played all 40 minutes tonight, shot 3-9 from beyond the arc good for a season high 14 points for the junior guard.
Chris McCullough put in another solid game for SU finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds on 7-12 shooting from the field and pulled down what turned out to be the game clinching steal with ten seconds left to play.
Syracuse will head back to central New York with a 3-1 record and lots of work to do as they get the weekend off before playing Loyola on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Boeheim said. “We just need time, I just hope it’s not too much time.”
Jim Boeheim Post-Game: