Friday evening at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse University's men's basketball team started again. And it wasn't a Renaissance painting of offense for the Orange and Northern Iowa in the first half, as they both shot poorly from the field and combined for 11 turnovers.
Somehow, the Orange eked out a 23-20 halftime lead, then recovered in the second half and methodically dominated the Panthers to win 68-46 in front of a large opening-night throng of 22,145.
SU outscored UNI 45-26 in the second half. The Orange won the battle of the points in the paint (18-10) and the bench played an integral role, too, outscoring NI 31-12.
Head coach Jim Boeheim won his 830th career game and tied Jim Phelan of Mount St. Mary's for fifth place in all-time victories in NCAA Division I history. And he was pleased the way his team responded in the second half against the two-time defending Missouri Valley Conference champions, who stunned Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament last March.
SU's defense was impressive all game long. The Panthers only shot 28 percent from the floor and three-for-16 beyond the arc, thanks to the Orange's effective 2/3 zone.
Now a full-time starter, Kris Joseph contributed 14 points, 13 of which came in the second half. He also finished with five rebounds and hit six of eight free throws.
"Coach told us to relax and just play," said Joseph, "In the first half, I was thinking too much. When you over-think, things get harder. People who say basketball is 90 percent is mental are right. I had the charge and a few other plays, and you get frustrated. But you have to keep your head up."
Rick Jackson tied Joseph with 14 points, also collecting seven rebounds and matching a career high with four assists. Freshman Dion Waiters added 10 points, burying a pair of key 3-pointers.