Syracuse played a strong first half, outscoring the smaller and less athletic Cornell team 49-30. Paul Harris scored on a pull-up jumper just three seconds after the opening tip and the Orange were off and running. A Donte Greene jumper 4 mintues later extended the lead to 12-4, but Cornell got back in the game behind the three point shooting of Louis Dale (15 pts, 3-5 3pt) and Adam Gore (12 pts, 4-9 3pt). Gore's first triple pulled the Big Red to within 4 at 14-10, but Jim Boeheim had his charges switch to man to man defense and Cornell's open looks from the perimeter dried up.
The big star of the first half was Jonny Flynn, who scored 15 points before intermission and wowed the Dome crowd by being on the receiving end of a Donte Greene alley-oop pass. The duo has combined for several alley-oops on the young season, but this was the first time that Flynn was on the receiving end. Flynn showed the ability to score in almost every manner imaginable, hitting long range threes, driving to the basket in transition, and converting on floaters in the lane.
Junior F Kristof Ongenaet was also a major factor in the first half. Ongenaet finished one point shy of a double-double with 9 points and 10 boards and showed a great deal of hustle and moxie. Over the last two games, Ongenaet has spent more time on the floor than any Orangeman in recent memory. You might actually have to go back to the playing days of current assistant coach Mike Hopkins to find a player more like to hit the deck for a loose ball. Kristoff's most impressive play came when he missed a long jumper from the corner but tracked down the rebound and drove inside for a two-handed dunk.
After pulling out to the large halftime lead, the Orange turned in a sloppy and uninspired second half of play where the Big Red actually outscored them 34-31. Syracuse managed only 4 points in the first 6 minutes of the second half, including a four and a half minute drought. The common theme during this section of play was poor passing and even worse shot selection. Donte Greene and Paul Harris both feel victim in this regards, with Harris taking several ill-advised jumpers and Donte throwing away several lazy passes. Fortunately for the Orange, the Mountain in the Middle (Arinze Onuaku) came to play during the second half. Onuaku scored 12 points after the break and seemed to answer every time that Cornell threatened to get back in the game.
SU shot a respectable 48.5% from the floor, but connected on only 3 of 12 three pointers. The Orange once again dominated the boards against a smaller opponent at 52-37. It is refreshing to see this SU team completely control the glass againt overmatched non-conference teams, as the previous incarnations of the Orange routinely allowed smaller players to slide into position for rebounds on the offensive glass. That doesn't seem to be a problem for this SU team. SU also recorded 18 assists to 16 turnover for a slim +2 margin. Considering where they were at the beginning of the season, 16 turnovers doesn't look horrible, but there is obviously still room for a lot of improvement in this category.
Ongenaet's hustle. Will it translate against bigger and more talented teams?
Jonny Flynn. 'nuff said.
Donte Greene's defense on Cornell's leading scorer Ryan Wittman, who was held to 6 points (9 below his average) on 2 of 14 shooting.
Arinze Onuaku's ability to score basically "at will" against teams that can't match his size. He's shooting nearly 90% over his last 33 shots. Will it translate against bigger and more talented teams?
Zero Sum Gain:
Paul Harris - this kid has the unique ability to look both amazingly talented and brutally raw within a span of seconds. After hitting his first mid-range jumper just seconds into the contest, he spent the next 25 minutes trying to prove that he could do it consistently. Guess what? He can't. Boeheim yanked him repeatedly for taking (and missing) jumpers early in the shot clock. After a poor first half and about 5 terrible minutes to start the second, Harris calmed down and started attacking the glass and passing the ball. His final stat line was 10 pts, 7 reb, 5 asts, but he could have easily had 3 or 4 more assists if teammates had finished the shots that he set them up for. At this point, Paul's biggest problem is his inability to recognize his weaknesses and play to his strengths. Half the time he plays to his weaknesses and ignores his strengths. Boeheim's got his hands full here.
Too much reliance on the outside shot early in the second half. Greene suffered through a dreadful shooting night at 4-16 (1-6 from 3).
Free throw shooting - 11 for 23 is not going to help SU win Big East games. The Orange had exactly ONE player shoot higher than 50% from the line (Onuaku at 2-3).
Syracuse has 7 days off before taking on Northeastern in their final tune-up before Big East play starts on January 2nd.