|Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas dunks against Albany's Gerardo Suero during the second half of the NIT Season Tip-Off NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. Syracuse won 98-74. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)|
Albany no match for No. 5 Syracuse, loses 98-74
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Will Brown looked out at Jim Boeheim Court and knew his Albany Great Danes were going into be in for a long, tough night against big, fifth-ranked Syracuse.
"They're so darn athletic that if you don't get the rebound you've got to make sure your guy doesn't get the rebound," Brown said. "But they're big at every position. When their point guards and off guards are as big as our power forwards, it's not a good formula for success for us. The length is ridiculous."
Brown's suspicions proved to be correct.
Syracuse (3-0) outrebounded Albany 47 to 29 en route to a 98-74 rout of the Great Danes (1-2) on Tuesday night in the second round of the NIT Season Tipoff. With the win, the Orange now advance to play Virginia Tech (3-0) in the semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden.
Twenty-two of the Orange's rebounds came on the offensive glass, letting Syracuse score 24 points off put-back shots. And even when Albany wasn't being defeated on the boards, it still couldn't manage to consistently get by Syracuse's length around the perimeter.
Albany junior college transfer Gerardo Suero scored a season-high 31 points but rarely could feed the ball to his teammates.
"They were so big. I like to penetrate, and kick it out to my teammate," Suero said. "I couldn't do that. I was getting mad."
In a game in which Albany had a deficit of as much as 29 points, the Great Danes never stood much of chance.
Kris Joseph and James Southerland each scored 19 points to lead the Orange and Syracuse's four guards combined for 19 assists with three turnovers and scored 25 points.
Syracuse beat Manhattan 92-56 in the first round on Monday night with a high-tempo attack that produced 42 points on the fast break, while the reserves contributed 50 points. This time they dominated the boards early to take charge.
Baye Keita had a career-high 14 points on 6 of 6 shooting and added five rebounds and two blocks, while the Orange's other big man, Fab Melo, had eight points and seven rebounds.
Logan Aronhalt added 20 and Mike Black had 11 for the Great Danes, who scored 26 points from the free throw line to 12 for the Orange.
Brown promised that his Great Danes would play hard, and they did. Suero had 16 points in the first half, going 9 for 9 from the foul line, and the game was tied three times in the first 8 minutes before the Orange gradually assumed control. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim used 11 players, and 10 had at least 14 minutes.
After Suero tied the game at 16 with a pair of free throws at 12:52, Syracuse took off on a 14-2 run.
Michael Carter-Williams began the spurt by setting up the 7-foot Melo for an easy lay-in. Melo converted a follow the next time down the floor, and Southerland hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and followed with another 3 after a miss by Dion Waiters. Melo completed the surge by sending Joseph in for a short jumper in the lane.
When the Great Danes tried to penetrate, they had trouble making it through all those long arms. Melo's partner in the paint, the 6-foot-10 Keita, registered a block on Sam Rowley, hit a layup at the other end then swatted away a shot in the lane by Suero on Albany's next trip down the court. The frustration was visible on Suero's face as he stared down at the court.
Still, the Danes were in the game. Black fed Suero for a 3 from the right wing and Aronhalt drained another from long range to pull Albany to 38-29 with 6:03 to go, but Waiters scored six points and Joseph had five as the Orange closed the half with a 13-5 surge for a 51-34 lead.
A 3-pointer by guard Scoop Jardine and Jardine's lob to Brandon Triche on consecutive possessions in the second half gave the Orange a 62-37 advantage at 16:03.