Phil Greene scored 11 consecutive points for St. John’s over 4:06 mark to the 0:58 mark of the second half as the Red Storm pulled away from the Syracuse Orange late to earn road victory. Greene scored 18 in total on the night, and D’Angelo Harrison added 24 in St. John’s 69-57 victory.
Syracuse appeared to be in control, rallying from an eight point deficit to tie it on a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Chris McCullough on Ron Patterson’s offering. Syracuse pulled ahead 55-52 over the next three minutes, but went scoreless over the next four minutes as Greene took over.
”We struggled to score but our defense was good,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. “It kept us in there. But when you shoot 3-22 (from three-point range) and 10-20 from the foul line and 22-56 (overall), it’s very difficult to win against a good team.”
Syracuse jumped out early and held a lead for most of the first half behind a strong defensive effort. But in what would foreshadow things to come, St. John’s scored seven of the half’s final nine points to take a four point advantage into the locker room.
The Red Storm continued that momentum in the second half, extending to a 50-42 lead with 12:42 left to play. The Orange responded with a 13-1 run just prior to Greene’s explosion.
After Syracuse took the 55-52 lead, Syracuse turned it over three times, went 1-5 from the field and 0-2 from the charity stripe. The Orange missed several open looks from the outside, which opened the door for St. John’s.
”We just haven’t been good at the end of games both here and Michigan,” Boeheim said. “And when you’re in close games at the end of the games you have to be good. At the end of the day, we had three or four threes when we had the lead or when it was tied and we missed them. They got them, they made them.”
Rakeem Christmas led the Orange with 15 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. McCullough added 13 points and eight boards to go with three blocks and three steals of his own. Syracuse shot only 39% from the floor for the game.
The Orange defense held St. John’s to 38% shooting and forced 10 turnovers. But the Red Storm went 5-6 from beyond the arc in the second half, which proved pivotal in the outcome.
The loss dropped Syracuse to 5-3 on the season.
WHAT WE LIKED: Syracuse controlled the boards and played solid defense for most of the game. They tried to go inside where their advantage was, and led the offense run through Christmas and McCullough. Michael Gbinije was aggressive and scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE: Syracuse again failed to make plays down the stretch of a close game despite seemingly having all of the momentum. They gave up open looks defensively and failed to convert their own open shots. Syracuse finished 3-22 from three-point range while St. John’s went 9-16. Combine that with a poor 10-20 effort from the free-throw line, and it was a recipe for a tough home loss.
QUOTABLE: “He’s got to learn that he’s a point guard and not a three-point shooter. And he’s got to play defense.”
-- Jim Boeheim on Kaleb Joseph only playing 19-minutes.
ROBERSON DOES NOT PLAY: “He couldn’t practice yesterday. He said he was healthy the other day. At practice yesterday he couldn’t go. He was half speed and said it was bothering him. If you can’t practice the day before a game, you don’t play.”
-- Jim Boeheim
KEY MOMENT: Tied at 55 with under four minutes to play, Ron Patterson had two open looks at a three and missed both. Phil Greene hit one to put St. John’s ahead. Gbinije turned it over on Syracuse’s next possession and Greene converted the miss into a layup on the other end.
STATS OF THE DAY: Syracuse shot just 13.6% from three-point range and 50% from the free-throw line. Conversely, St. John’s hit 56.3% of their outside attempts and hit 80% of their shots from the charity stripe.
UP NEXT: Syracuse has several days off as they face Louisiana Tech inside the Carrier Dome on Sunday, December 14th at 4:00pm.
Jim Boeheim Post-Game: