Canisius threatens, then Syracuse rolls 85-61

  • Article by: JOHN KEKIS
  • Associated Press
  • December 15, 2012 - 10:05 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - When Jordan Heath and brother Josiah staked Canisius to a lead late in the first half against No. 4 Syracuse, Golden Griffins coach Jim Baron was thinking the same thing he did before the opening tip.

Hey, if Butler could knock off top-ranked Indiana, his Griffs could do the same thing to the fourth-ranked Orange. They did until the break, then the Orange scored 50 points in the second half and cruised to an 85-61 win on Saturday night in the Gotham Classic.

"No question about it. I thought if we had a couple of more shots we would have been right in there," Baron said. "I told our guys we were coming in to win this game. It wasn't just a tourist visiting. We wanted to come in here and battle them. I thought we did that. We just fell short."

James Southerland broke out of a slump with 21 points and Brandon Triche had 19 to lead Syracuse. Michael Carter-Williams added 12 points and 14 assists, his fourth straight double-double, as the Orange (9-0) extended their home winning streak to 29 games — the longest in the nation — and moved head coach Jim Boeheim within one victory of 900.

Mike Krzyzewski (936) and Bob Knight (902) are the only Division I men's coaches to reach that milestone. The Orange's next game is at home against Detroit on Monday night.

Canisius (6-2) was off to its best start since 1973-74 and was riding a three-game winning streak on the road. The Golden Griffins haven't beaten a ranked team since a 72-69 win over No. 13 Cincinnati in December 1994.

Billy Baron and Isaac Sosa each scored 15 points to lead Canisius, which outrebounded Syracuse 37-34, 16-12 on the offensive end. Harold Washington, the team's leading scorer at 18.6 points per game, finished with nine, going just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc a week after hitting a career-high six in a 94-82 win at Marist.

Alshwan Hymes, who played ball with the Orange's Triche at Jamesville-DeWitt High School in suburban Syracuse, sat the first half for violating team rules and finished with six points.

Southerland, who had gone 0 for 10 on 3-pointers in three games since hitting 9 of 13 at Arkansas, was 3 of 6 from beyond the arc and 9 for 14 overall. Rakeem Christmas finished with 10 points for the Orange.

Canisius fell behind by as many as nine in what was a tight first half. The Griffs trailed 23-14 after Carter-Williams swished a 3 from the top of the key, but they stayed patient, searching for the open man, and slowly came back.

Washington hit consecutive layups and Sosa nailed a 3-pointer to thwart the Orange's press and move the Griffs within 30-26 with 5:32 left.

After Syracuse missed in close and from beyond the arc, Jordan Heath swished a 3 from the wing and Josiah Heath completed a three-point play on consecutive trips down court to give the Griffs a 32-30 lead with 2:24 to go.

Canisius hit 5 of 16 from long range and outrebounded Syracuse 21-17 in the first half, while the Orange converted just 5 of 11 free throws.

"We fought back. We made some huge shots," Sosa said. "We had so many defensive breakdowns in the second half. If we would have made some shots and kept our defense tight, it would have been a different game."

Two free throws by Carter-Williams and Triche's layup at the buzzer gave the Orange a 35-32 halftime lead.

Syracuse started the second half with a 15-3 spurt to take control. A 3-pointer by Southerland completed an 11-0 run spanning halftime and gave Syracuse a 41-32 lead with 18:36 left. The Orange shot 21 of 34 (61.8 percent) in the second half.

"They made shots," Billy Baron said. "When they're making shots, it's tough to beat them in that 2-3 zone."

The Griffs had four turnovers in the first six minutes of the second half, and the Orange capitalized. Christmas hit a jumper from the foul line, Southerland converted an alley-oop dunk from Triche, C.J. Fair hit off the glass, and Carter-Williams passed to Triche for a 3 from the wing to give Syracuse a 50-35 lead with 14:45 to go.

Canisius was within 69-57 after Sosa's 3 with 4:17 left, but Carter-Williams fed Christmas for a dunk and Southerland scored five straight points.

"You've got to hit shots to knock them out of that zone," coach Baron said. "We didn't hit enough shots. We fell short, and they just stayed in it and stayed in it and stayed in it. It was like going to the dentist's office. They're a good team."

The Gotham Classic also includes Temple, Detroit and Alcorn State. The format features 10 games with all teams facing each other once. Syracuse and Temple will meet in the feature game at noon on Dec. 22 at Madison Square Garden.

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