By Paul Gotham
SYRACUSE, NY — James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams led four in double figures as the Syracuse Orange (9-0) ran away from the Canisius Golden Griffins (6-2), 85-61 before 18,120 in the Gotham Classic at the Carrier Dome, Saturday night.
Southerland came off the bench and netted seven as the Orange outscored Canisius 18-6 in the opening moments of the second half.
“Southerland came in and gave them tremendous minutes off the bench,” said Canisius head coach Jim Baron. “He gave them the opportunity to really stretch the defense.”
Brandon Triche hit one-of-two free throws to start the second stanza. C.J. Fair followed with a pair of charity tosses before Southerland connected with one of three threes on the night for a 41-32 SU lead.
“In the second half, our defense got better,” explained Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “Offensively, we executed better. We got better shots. We got in the lane better. Our guards controlled the game getting in the lane making plays. I thought that was the difference.”
Rakeem Christmas drained a free-throw line jumper before Triche found Southerland ahead of the defense for an alley oop dunk.
After Billy Baron, hit one-of-two from the free throw line, Christmas nailed a free-throw line jumper for the 43-33 lead. The Orange never looked back from there.
Triche hit a three in transition and followed with a dunk when Carter-Williams led him after a steal. By the time Southerland curled in the lane for a jumper, the Orange had a decisive 54-38 advantage.
The Orange went on to hit 21-of-34 (61.8 percent) from the perimeter after the break.
“We knew it was going to be a battle coming in,” Baron added. “We did a great job in the first half of rebounding the basketball, getting second and third shots. Second half they came out and made some big plays and hit some big shots.”
Southerland hit seven-of-nine from the field including two-of-four behind the arc in the final twenty minutes.
“He played well tonight,” said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “I think he realized that we’d like him to make some threes. He’s putting the ball to the floor better. He made a couple of good dribble moves. He got all the way to the basket.”
Using the long ball early, Canisius outscored the Orange 10-4 to pull within one early in the first half.
After the ball went side-to-side, Harold Washington drew the defense with a drive from the right. The 6-1 guard kicked to Isaac Sosa for a catch-and-shoot three.
Christmas answered with a jump hook from the right side of the lane.
Reggie Groves responded with a catch-and-shoot trey of his own when Baron found him in the right corner. Canisius trailed, 13-10. On the next possession, the Griffins defense created a turnover, and Jordan Heath led Baron into the open court for a layup and a 13-12 deficit.
“Jim has done a good job with that group,” Boeheim said. “They have got excellent ballhandling. In the first half we weren’t as good defensively as we need to be.”
Jerami Grant and Carter-Williams connected on back-to-back threes to give SU its largest lead of the first half at 23-14.
But the Griffs battled back.
Washington used an upfake behind the arc to get in the lane and finish at the rim. Baron drove from the top of the key and used his body to draw contact before hitting a layup. Jordan Heath hit a pick-and-pop three from the top to pull the Blue and Gold within one. Josiah Heath followed a traditional three-point play and the Griffs led at 32-30.
“We told our guys we were coming in here to win this game,” Baron said. “We weren’t just tourists visiting. I thought if we had a couple more shots, we would have been right in there.”
Syracuse outscored Canisius 50-29 in the second stanza. The typical Orange zone defense held the Griffs to 33 percent from the floor (9-of-27) after the break.
“It’s like going to the dentist,” Jim Baron said when asked about attacking the Syracuse 2-3.
Southerland had a game-high 21 points. Triche followed with 19 while Carter-Williams added 12, and Christmas had 10. DaJuan Coleman, C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita each corralled six rebounds.
Carter-Williams dished out 14 assists. The sophomore entered play leading the nation with 10.38 dimes a game.
Baron and Sosa led the Griffs with 15 each. Sosa hit five-of-nine from long range. Baron handed out four helpers and notched a game-high seven boards.
Washington chipped in with nine points and four assists.
Syracuse outscored Canisius in the paint 40-12. Part of that included a 23-12 advantage on points off turnovers.
With the win, Boeheim earned his 899th career triumph. The Orange will look to bring home 900 when Detroit visits the Carrier Dome Monday night.
The Griffs host Longwood on Monday. A 7 p.m. tip is scheduled at the Koessler Athletic Center.