Syracuse (16-8, 7-4) ran away from Boston College (9-14, 1-10) behind a 42-point second half led by Michael Gbinije and the unlikely contributions from freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph and sophomore forward B.J. Johnson. Syracuse swept the season series from the Eagles with a 70-56 road victory.
Rakeem Christmas was held in check, scoring in single digits for just the second time this season. He made only three of his eight shots and turned it over five times. The Eagles threw double and triple teams at him in the post all night, forcing Syracuse to get contributions elsewhere.
Two players picked up the slack in Joseph and Johnson. Joseph made all seven of his shots, dished out four assists and played solid defense throughout. Twelve of his 14 points came in the second half, half of which came on thunderous dunks that helped Syracuse build their advantage.
Gbinije led the Orange with 21 points and added seven boards, four assists and four steals in a superb all-around game for the junior forward. Johnson came off the bench to pour in 12 points off of four made three-pointers.
Every time Boston College would creep back into the game, Gbinije, Joseph or Johnson seemed to hit a critical bucket to give Syracuse the momentum back.
The game did not start so well for Syracuse, turning it over nine times in the first half to keep the Eagles in it. The Orange only led by four at the half despite a 46%-30% shooting edge.
Offensively, the second half was just about the complete opposite of the first. Better ball movement, smarter basketball, higher percentage shots and more efficient play were the themes for Syracuse. They turned it over only four times, shot 52% from the floor, and pulled away from the Eagles.
Trevor Cooney also had a solid game, giving Syracuse four players in double figures with 15 points.
WHAT WE LIKED: Unexpected contributions from Kaleb Joseph and B.J. Johnson were critical. With Christmas having his worst game of the season, they needed to step up and did. Joseph, specifically, looked as if a light bulb went on. Playing in his home state, he was able to contribute 14 points (12 in the second half) without missing a shot. Michael Gbinije had a big time game as well, leading Syracuse 21 points on 8-11 shooting.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE: The first half was sloppy for Syracuse, turning it over way too much. Most of the time in unforced fashion. The only other complaint was a poor performance from senior center Rakeem Christmas. He had only seven points and turned it over five times, though he did snag 10 rebounds and block three shots. Given how great he has been all season, it’s easy to forgive him for this one.
KEY MOMENT: With the scored tied at 34 with under 17 minutes to play, Syracuse went on a critical 13-6 run to extend their lead to seven. It forced Boston College to call a timeout, and they would not get closer than five the rest of the game. During the run, Kaleb Joseph had two points and an assists, B.J. Johnson drilled a three to cap the run, and Gbinije added five points.
STATS OF THE DAY: Syracuse dominated the battle on the boards 33-23 and finished with six blocks and nine steals. They held B.C. to just 6-18 shooting from three-point range while 9-23 shots from beyond the arc themselves. The Orange also shot well from the charity stripe, hitting nine of their 11 attempts.
NOTES: Rakeem Christmas scored in single digits for the second time this season. B.J. Johnson made his first three-pointer since December 22nd against Colgate. It was the first time this season Gbinije scored 20-plus points in back to back games. The win also extends Syracuse’s streak of consecutive winning seasons at 44, the longest active streak in the country.
UP NEXT: Syracuse returns home to face Duke on Saturday for a 6:00pm tip-off.
Players Discuss Win: