Syracuse Basketball: ‘Cuse with epic comeback over Colgate in gritty win

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

Early on in the second half on Tuesday night at the JMA Wireless Dome, Syracuse basketball found itself losing to top Patriot League team Colgate by a count of 54-30.

It was ugly. The Raiders, a group that had beaten the Orange on two straight occasions, both on the road, were outclassing the ‘Cuse on both ends of the floor. The crowd had booed its hometown team.

Social media, understandably, wasn’t a pretty sight to see. Some fans were trashing the Orange, saying Syracuse basketball was destined for an awful 2023-24 season.

My friends, that’s why they play the entire 40 minutes. Over the remainder of this non-conference affair on the Hill, the ‘Cuse outscored Colgate by a whopping 49-21 to squeak out an improbable 79-75 victory over the Raiders before a frenetic – and probably slightly stunned – Dome crowd.

To me, this outcome on Tuesday evening demonstrated the character, grit and toughness of the Syracuse basketball 2023-24 roster, which by the way, is filled with underclassmen. Orange players, easily, could have withered away after falling behind Colgate by two-dozen points.

Nope. Led by sophomore forward Chris Bell, with 25 points, and sophomore point guard Judah Mintz, with 23 points, the ‘Cuse (3-0) was much better on the glass in the second half, and a full-court pressure installed by head coach Adrian Autry after halftime totally rattled the Raiders (1-1).

It was a tale of two halves for Syracuse basketball versus Colgate.

Over the past two games in this long-time series, Colgate defeated the Orange by double-digits in both instances, with the Raiders torching the ‘Cuse from beyond the arc.

And in the first half on Tuesday from the Dome, it was more of the same, although Colgate didn’t just dominate Syracuse basketball from the perimeter.

The Raiders shot well from deep, but they also connected at a high clip in the paint. As a whole, Colgate shot 50 percent from the field, and it was 8-of-15 from 3-point land. Alarmingly, the Raiders on offense just shredded the ‘Cuse, whether they were facing a man-to-man or zone defense, as Colgate got way too many high-percentage and wide-open looks.

By extension, the Raiders manhandled the Orange on the glass in the first 20 minutes, to the tune of 25-12. That helped fuel an edge in second-chance points of 12-2 for Colgate.

For the ‘Cuse, meanwhile, Syracuse basketball had produced 80-plus points in each of its first two non-conference affairs to start the 2023-24 stanza, but the Orange offense looked completely out of rhythm in the first half against Colgate.

The ‘Cuse was settling for jumpers and not driving to the rim enough, evidenced by Colgate holding an 18-14 advantage in paint points.

The Raiders did a terrific job with their transition defense, as Colgate in the first half held a 10-7 lead in fast-break points, while the teams were tied at four a piece in points off of turnovers.

Additionally, the Raiders limited Syracuse basketball at the charity stripe, where the Orange wants to handle its foes. In the first half, the ‘Cuse was 4-of-5 from the free-throw line, while Colgate was 4-of-6.

All in all, Syracuse basketball hit on just 36.7 percent from the field and trailed at halftime, 46-30. Early in the second half, Colgate kept it going, pushing its lead above 20 points, eventually to 24 points, as the Orange crowd began booing, which I hated to see.

Then, however, Syracuse basketball used its full-court pressure to make it a game and, stunningly, prevail in the end. Over the first 20 minutes, Bell had 10 points, sophomore guard J.J. Starling collected seven points, while Mintz posted six points.

Up next, the ‘Cuse will have three contests at the 2023 Allstate Maui Invitational in Honolulu, beginning with No. 7 Tennessee on Monday, Nov. 20. The tip-off of this Orange-clad encounter is scheduled for 2:30 pm EST, with television coverage on ESPN2.

A huge congrats to the Syracuse basketball players and coaching staff for this gritty, character-demonstrating triumph over Colgate on Tuesday at the Dome.

Next. Syracuse basketball commit Elijah Moore erupts again, making 5-star case. dark