SYRACUSE Starting the season no. 9 in the national polls, the Syracuse basketball team didn't complain about traveling to the West Coast to open its season, never mind facing No. 20 San Diego State on the flight deck of a retired aircraft carrier ship.
Instead, the Orange savored the majestic outdoor setting and the sunshine overlooking San Diego harbor. Both teams struggled shooting the ball, but the Orange struggled less, prevailing 62-49.
A week later, and back indoors at the Carrier Dome, SU, now no. 8 in the rankings, had to overcome an amateurish first half against Wagner, redeeming itself by shooting 67.9 percent from field in the last 20 minutes to beat the Seahawks 88-57.
SU had nine players that scored, three in double figures. Brandon Triche led all scorers with 21 points and seven rebounds. James Southerland added 15 points on six-of-nine shooting, while Baye Keita was a powerful force inside the paint scoring a career-best 15 points, mostly on dunks and layups.
Michael Carter-Williams had a career-high 11 assists, to go with six points, six rebounds and three steals. Trevor Cooney chimed in with eight points and was a strong factor defensively with five steals. And Rakeem Christmas delivered eight points and seven rebounds.
“I was just trying to get my players involved,” said Carter-Williams. “That is my role in the team, to get everyone involved and give everyone open shots. When all those people (teammates) are in a groove, were going to win that way. My points are going to come.”
The Orange turned the ball over 13 times, but forced 23 takeaways from the Seahawks, which led to 29 points.
You turn the ball (23) times against those guys it's curtains,” said first year Wagner head coach Bashir Mason. “Those guys are extremely good at getting out and running."