SYRACUSE On back-to-back nights, the Syracuse men’s basketball team diced through the opening phases of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament and earned yet another appearance at Madison Square Garden.
First, the Orange ripped Manhattan 92-56 last Monday night, featuring five players who scored in double digits and 11 players getting at least one point in an 11th straight win over the Jaspers.
Unlike their 2005 meeting with Manhattan which went to overtime (where SU won 87-82), this one proved simple. Dion Waiters paved the way again for SU with 17 points as Kris Joseph and Jame Southerland each scored 15 points. By themselves, SU’s bench almost outscored the Jaspers, registering 50 points.
“(SU) has normally been a seven or eight-man rotation,” said Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello. “Now they play 10 or 11 and you can’t wear them down. If you get someone in foul trouble, you’re coming off the bench with James Sutherland. They can hurt you in so many ways.”
Fab Melo scored 11 points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. Brandon Triche contributed 12 points, six assists and four steals.
In the opening 20 minutes SU shot 59.9 percent, including seven-for13 from 3-point range. Joseph connected on three of four 3-pointers and passed 1,000 points for his career at SU. At the same time, the Orange held the Jaspers to nine-for-29 shooting.
SU’s depth, size, and talent wore down Manhattan. SU’s long- armed Orange defenders made life difficult for Manhattan to navigate through the 2/3 zone.
The Orange built a 22-12 advantage through the first 10 minutes and used a 12-1 spurt (eight of the points from Joseph) to break the game open. Even an 8-0 Jaspers run could not turn things around as SU led, 52-26, at the break.
Both teams were sloppy and turned the ball over at the start of a the second half, SU only getting points from free throws until a Melo tip-in nearly seven minutes into the half. Defensively, SU refused to be complacent, ultimately causing 19 Manhattan turnovers as the lead grew to 68-33 with less than nine minutes left and the Orange could empty the bench.