USA TODAY Sports-Rich Barnes

Freshman Malachi Richardson starts his college career off right

Freshman forward Malachi Richardson continued to impress Syracuse fans with a sold opening night performance.

Freshman phenom Malachi Richardson came out gunning once again, hitting two 3-pointers in the first 2:20 of the game to give Syracuse an 8-2 lead. After his first 3-pointer, which came just 44 seconds into the game, Syracuse lost the lead just once en route to a 57-47 victory. 

"Once again, I think I had a decent shooting performance. My shots were able to go in, but then I went on a cold stretch. I've got to be a little more consistent," Richardson said after the game. 

The Trenton Catholic (NJ) product had another solid game for the Orange, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, 4-of-9 from deep. He also grabbed six rebounds.

When asked if what he believes his role on the team, he replied, "I don't think there is a role for anyone on the team. We just come in and play hard. That's what we do as basketball players." 

In the first half, Malachi hit fellow-freshman Tyler Lydon for an electrifying fast break dunk, which gave Syracuse a 27-11 lead late in the first half, "I saw him [Tyler], and Trev on the left. I decided wherever the defender went, I would go the opposite way. Tyler had his man beat, so I gave him the ball." 

That dunk got the crowd into it, something he loves to do. "I try to remain calm and stay levelheaded. But energy in the gym can get to me. Big plays like that mean a lot."

When looking at his stat line, there was one concerning number, which happened to be a trend for the Orange: turnovers. Richardson had 5 against Lehigh, and he wasn't shy about needing to improve. "I was careless with the ball," he said. "It's something I can improve on, especially making better decisions." 

Head coach Jim Boeheim thought Malachi played pretty well, even calling him SU's best player for a majority of the game. Richardson was complementary of his head coach post game as well, "He's a great teacher, a great motivator and is great at getting the best out of his players." 

Shooting the ball is something Richardson is used to. He told reporters after the game he began shooting when he was four-years-old. His mother gave him a tennis ball and would make a hoop with her arms, imitating a rim, and Malachi would shoot over and over again for repetition. Once his hands got bigger, he graduated to a girls ball and eventually a men's ball. 

Coach Boeheim joked after the game that Malachi's mother came up to him after the Florida Southern game talking about her son's bad turnovers he committed. 

On Tuesday, Syracuse plays St. Bonaventure at the Carrier Dome. A former AAU teammate of Malachi's, Derrick Woods, is a freshman for the Bonnies. He said it'll be good to see him on Tuesday and he's looking forward to it. 

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