McNeil powers Orangemen to third win

Binghamton guard Brett Watson should've known better. <br><br> He should've know the only thing that gets the Carrier Dome crowd going like a Hakim Warrick dunk or a Gerry McNamara 3-pointer is a Jeremy McNeil swat. Yet when Watson drove down the lane and flipped up a shot, McNeil, as he did exactly 100 times last year swatted Watson's shot, causing the Dome to erupt.

"I can't wait for them to shoot it," McNeil said of his blocking ability.

McNeil played his best game of the season, scoring six points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking four shots, as Syracuse (3-1) used a 39-18 run spanning over 17 minutes of the second half to knock off Binghamton (3-5), 75-54.

Hakim Warrick added nine points and seven rebounds, while Gerry McNamara chipped in nine points.

McNamara's jumper from the left wing tied the game at 16 early in the first half. More importantly, it was the catalyst of a 19-4 spurt that gave the Orangemen a 35-20 lead.

Syracuse would never look back.

One of the reasons for Syracuse's dominance was McNeil, Syracuse's lone scholarship senior.

McNeil came into Saturday's game owner of an anemic stat line. In Syracuse's first three games, McNeil had just 1.7 rebounds per game and two blocks to show for his effort.

But McNeil started quickly after entering the game with 13:00 left in the first half, slamming in a rebound after Josh Pace's shot went wide. Only minutes later, McNeil recorded his first block of the game, at Watson's expense.

"We need that from him," junior Josh Pace said. "He's a big part of what we did last year."

It's only taken a short time for one of McNeil's newest teammates, freshman Terrence Roberts to see McNeil's ability. Roberts, like many fans in the Dome, gets excited with McNeil denies a defender.

"Who wouldn't?" said Roberts, who led the Orangemen in scoring with 12 points. "He gets as high as I don't know what."

McNeil's ability to block shots allows the Orangemen to take more risks in the 2-3 zone knowing they have McNeil as insurance should they gamble incorrectly.

Syracuse led 52-42 when McNeil entered the game for the first time in the second half. When he left with 3:47 remaining, the Orangemen had run away with the game, and led 68-47.

The win was Syracuse's third straight, after a season-opening loss to Charlotte. Should McNeil start producing like he did last year, the Orangemen will certainly reap the benefits.

When McNeil fills the lane, blocks shots, and grabs rebounds, Syracuse can look to speed up the tempo of its game, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

"We need to be more aggressive pushing the ball up the court," Boeheim said. "We've got to get it down the court and get into our offense."

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