Syracuse Repels Red Raiders 79-52

The Syracuse University men's basketball team ended their two game losing streak with a decisive 79-52 victory over the visiting Colgate University Red Raiders. The Orange were led by SR F Demetris Nichols, who drained 6 three-pointers and finished with a career high 28 points.

The biggest news prior to the game was that superfrosh Paul Harris would replace Eric Devendorf in the starting lineup, as Devendorf was reportedly still exhibiting flu-like symptoms that forced him to miss significant portions of the team's last two games. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was hoping that the change might also serve to jumpstart an Orange attack that had been downright anemic in recent games.

However, the team got off to another slow start, as poor execution and ball handling kept the score close in the early going. SU won the opening tap, but the Red Raiders drew first blood, scoring on a 17 foot pull up jumper from guard Dan Waddy. The Orange got on the board seconds later after a Darryl Watkins putback tied the game. Although the Syracuse players continued their trend of sloppy offensive play early on, it was clear that the team was putting a lot of effort into correcting another trend that had plagued the team in losses to Wichita State and Oklahoma State—poor rebounding. SU took its first lead of the game on a Terrance Roberts offensive rebound / putback at the 17:00 minute mark and never looked back.

Wright extended the Syracuse lead with a straight away three point shot, and after forcing a Colgate turnover, sophomore Andy Rautins followed suit by drilling a trifecta from the right elbow. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was in midseason form, angrily calling a timeout following a Colgate offensive rebound bucket on the next possession. The Orange players got the message, as Demetris Nichols scored his first bucket on an aggressive drive, and Rautins converted a steal on the Red Raiders' next possession into a pair of made free throws.

Syracuse looked to accelerate the game tempo by applying an early full court press, but Colgate was able to break the Orange pressure defense with an easy layup. Senior Matt Gorman continued SU's hot shooting by nailing a three on the ensuing possession. The two teams traded baskets, with neither team gaining an advantage until Eric Devendorf entered the game for the first time at the 9:15 mark. Devendorf quickly made an impact, finding Roberts on the fast break for a two handed transition jam that gave SU an 8 point lead and elicited a Colgate timeout. Colgate scored on its next possession, but Rautins answered with another three, giving the Orange their first double-digit lead of the game.

Matt Gorman drives to the hoop.

The Orange lead was 25-19 with when Devendorf registered his first points, converting an old fashioned three-point play. Although "8-Mile" was reportedly still suffering from the effects of a lingering flu, his play in the first half was a positive sign for concerned Orange fans.

Syracuse went into the locker room with a 35-30 halftime lead as Roberts was able to throw down a dunk that barely beat the buzzer. The story of the first half was how active the Syracuse players were on the boards—clearly a point of emphasis after the team was outrebounded so badly by Oklahoma State. Unfortunately, Syracuse's defensive lapses also continued, with sloppy execution and poor concentration allowing the Red Raiders to keep the score within striking distance.

Syracuse struck first in the second half on a 12 foot floater from Josh Wright. After forcing a turnover on the next possession, Nichols drilled a three pointer that gave Syracuse a 40-30 lead. However, the Syracuse players were never able to settle into a comfortable groove on offense, which prevented the Orange from putting Colgate away early on. Then, the Nichols deluge began.

Demetris Nichols records one of his three blocked shots on the evening.

After Darryl Watkins picked up his fourth foul with 15:55 remaining in the game, the Orange began to speed up the tempo and extend their lead. Wright scored on a baseline three pointer that give SU a 53-38 lead, when Nichols took over. In rapid succession, DNic scored 11 consecutive points to stretch the SU lead to 18 points, 61-43. Roberts gave the home team a 20 point lead after scoring a loose change basket inside, and hauling in a long carom off of his own missed free throw attempt, TRob fed Nichols for yet another three point shot that gave SU a 66-43 advantage. Nichols drilled another closely guarded three point shot to extend the lead to 69-43, and the rout was on.

With Nichols's hot shooting leading the way, the other Orange players began to get into the act. Roberts and Devendorf both scored on acrobatic layups and the Syracuse swelled to 28 points.

Down the stretch, the Orange went into coast mode, as Boeheim began to substitute liberally. Even the walk-ons made it into the game, as Syracuse cruised to a comfortable 79-52 victory, improving the team's record to 8-2. Senior forward Kyle Chones led the Red Raiders with 18 points.

Next up for the Orange: a home game against Baylor University on Saturday, 12/16.

Player of the game: Syracuse senior Demetris Nichols was en fuego during the second half, scoring 28 points for the game on a net-torching 11-16 from the field, including 6-8 from three point range.

Notes:Freshman Mike Jones [who?] did not dress for the Colgate game…Rautins broke out of a shooting slump, nailing a pair of threes in the first half en route to registering 12 points…Devin Brennan-McBride saw his first game action since the Northeastern game, scoring a point from the free throw line…Harris had his lowest scoring game [2 points] of the season…the Orange shot a blistering 13-21 from three point range, good for 61.9%.

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