SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — It was a case of déjà vu for Syracuse Wednesday, but this time the offense woke up.
After a 1-for-13 start in the team’s season-opener against Virginia, the Orange missed their first nine shots against Colgate, going the first six minutes without a make. The Orange offense finally got going but defense still keyed the win.
“You lose your first (game) and you get off to a slow start starting the second game, we had to rely on our defense,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Our defense was really good just to keep the game reasonable, which we did against Virginia, but we have to get our offense going better.”
Bourama Sidibe recorded his third career double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, Elijah Hughes added 17 points and eight assists, and Syracuse overcame the ice-cold start to defeat Colgate 70-54.
“We just keep fighting,” Sidibe said. “We know sometimes the shots aren’t going to fall.”
The shots didn’t fall at first and Colgate grabbed an early 9-1 lead on the strength of three 3-pointers.
“Everybody on our team can play better on offense. It’s a process,” Boeheim said. “We have to kind of get there. They just have to get better at it, but I thought the difference tonight was Bourama active down low. He finished around the basket. We were looking for him better.”
Buddy Boeheim chipped in with 17 points and six rebounds for the Orange.
The win marked the 54th consecutive win for Syracuse (1-1) against Colgate (1-2) The Raiders last beat Syracuse on Feb. 24, 1962.
Jordan Burns led Colgate with 12 points. Kelly Cummings added 10. Rapolas Ivanauskas had nine rebounds, but shot just 2-for-10.
Syracuse held Colgate to 30% shooting from the field, including 13 of 41 from 3. Colgate shot just 28% in the second half, including a 3 of 19 start. The Orange dominated inside, outscoring Colgate 34-8 in the paint.
“I thought we got to the 3-point shooters very well for a long extended period of time in the first half,” Boeheim said.
“The Syracuse game is really hard because teams like us on our level don’t play a zone, they’re not built like Syracuse,” said Colgate coach Matt Langel.
“Cuse is a tough team. They play a 2-3 zone. They have a lot of long guys.”
Hughes said that once his teammates got in the right mindset, the defense kicked things up a notch.
“We got after it more on defense (in the second half). We located. We matched up better. When we’re in our spots it’s hard to score against us.”
“I thought we really located shooters well. We were flying around and we contested a lot of hard shots,” Buddy Boeheim said.
The Orange hit 50% from the field 7 of 17 from beyond the arc.
FREE THROWS MATTER, OR NOT
Syracuse shot 7 of 12 from the foul line after going just 3 of 7 against Virginia. Two games don’t make a trend, but the early results from the line are not good.
After shooting 11 of 15 in his first two games, Will Rayman was a cold 2 of 9.
Marek Dolezaj brought the crowd to its feet with 18:26 to go in the game with a coast-to-coast dash and spinning dunk.
HITTING THE PINE
Point guard Jalen Carey was replaced by freshman Joe Girard III to start the second half, and Boeheim announced after the game that Girard would start Saturday against Seattle.
Colgate: With four returning starters the Raiders will probably be fine. It’s hard to judge this team based on their play against Power Five opponents. Colgate played Clemson tough and got off to a good start against the Orange. Auburn will be another huge test.
Syracuse: The Orange may have found a spark in freshman guard Girard, who started the second half. Girard plays with tons of energy and has an outside shot the team desperately needs. Deposed starter Jalen Carey may never see the light of day.
Colgate, after games against the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Clemson and Syracuse, steps up in class as the Red Raiders hit the road for a Monday matchup against No. 22 Auburn, which reached its first Final Four in school history last season, in the Legends Classic.
Syracuse continues its seven-game season-opening home stand with a Saturday date against first-time opponent Seattle as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.