Syracuse Basketball: Top observations from SU’s win in Adrian Autry debut

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Adrian Autry era of Syracuse basketball took place on the Hill against America East Conference member New Hampshire on Monday night, and the Orange’s first-year head coach took the reins from Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim and notched a triumph in his debut.

The ‘Cuse (1-0) got off to a fast start versus the Wildcats (0-1), racing out to a 32-9 lead in the first half. But the Orange didn’t shoot particularly well from the perimeter, and New Hampshire kept battling, cutting the deficit to single digits in the second half.

Syracuse basketball, though, managed to score an 83-72 victory over the Wildcats at the JMA Wireless Dome, as the Orange was paced by 20 points from sophomore point guard Judah Mintz. This outcome, by the way, represented the first-ever meeting between Syracuse basketball and New Hampshire.

By and large, this wasn’t an overly impressive performance from the ‘Cuse, but it was also the first game of the 2023-24 season. A win is a win, from my perspective, and the team will continue to work hard and iron out the kinks.

Here are my top observations from the Syracuse basketball conquest of New Hampshire.

•Junior forward Benny Williams did not play. On November 1, the Orange announced that he had been suspended “for a violation of team rules” and is expected to rejoin the ‘Cuse “soon.” A team spokesperson confirmed to me prior to Monday evening’s game that “there is no change in Benny’s status as of now.”

•In Autry’s first game as the squad’s head coach, his starting five were Mintz, sophomore guard J.J. Starling, sophomore wing Justin Taylor, sophomore forward Chris Bell and junior center Naheem McLeod.

•There were several former Syracuse basketball players in attendance, including former Orange stars John Wallace and Lawrence Moten.

•On the ACC Network Extra call were veteran play-by-play announcer Matt Park and analyst Eric Devendorf, a former ‘Cuse star. I really enjoyed listening to Devendorf. He provided a lot of strong insights.

•Autry’s rotation on Monday night featured nine of the Orange’s 13 scholarship players getting run. Those who did not play were Williams, injured sophomore guard Chance Westry, junior center Mounir Hima and freshman center William Patterson.

•Syracuse basketball struggled with its shooting, connecting on 41.8 percent from the field and just 23.8 percent from beyond the arc. The ‘Cuse, however, was a solid 22-of-27 from the free-throw line.

•The rebounding department is always a hot-button topic. Syracuse basketball posted a 47-41 edge over New Hampshire on the glass.

•The Orange had 13 steals and forced the Wildcats into 16 turnovers. The ‘Cuse committed 11 miscues.

•The ‘Cuse sprinkled in some zone but primarily utilized a man-to-man defense. Syracuse basketball had a commanding 30-9 advantage in bench points, along with a 22-11 edge in fast-break points, and a 46-32 lead in paint points. The teams were tied at 18-18 in points off of turnovers.

•Individually, Mintz registered 20 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. He excels when he attacks the rim and gets to the charity stripe, where he was 9-of-11 in the 2023-24 season opener.

•Taylor tallied 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. He was 2-of-3 from downtown.

•Sophomore wing Quadir Copeland accumulated a double-double, with 10 points and a stellar 13 rebounds, along with three assists and one steal.

•Starling didn’t shoot well, although he had 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

•Sophomore big man Maliq Brown produced 10 points, six boards, one assist and an impressive four steals.

•Redshirt sophomore guard Kyle Cuffe Jr., who is an explosive athlete, generated eight points, four rebounds and one steal. He knocked down one 3-pointer.

•McLeod, in 10 minutes, had four points and three rebounds. Bell was only 2-of-7 from the field, and he finished with five points, four boards, one assist, one block and one steal.

•Sophomore center Peter Carey, in six minutes of court time, had two points and two rebounds.

•For what it’s worth, coming into this game, Syracuse basketball was a 17.5-point betting favorite over New Hampshire, according to FanDuel.

•After his first win as the Orange’s head coach, Autry chatted for a few minutes with Park and Devendorf. He acknowledged that the team has a lot of work to do, but he praised his squad for battling and sticking together to pull out a victory after New Hampshire had significantly trimmed its deficit in this non-conference contest.

•Next up, Syracuse basketball will host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school Canisius, which is located in Buffalo, N.Y. This encounter will tip-off at 7 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 8, with live-streaming coverage on the ACC Network Extra and ESPN+. In their all-time series together, the Orange leads the Golden Griffins, 46-24.

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