MOVIN’ ON UP: No. 4 Syracuse throttles Binghamton 93-65, will likely claim No. 2 spot in nation

first_imgAlmost every day, it seems, there’s a stunning upset that shakes the college basketball landscape in the early part of the season. Presumptive favorites Kansas, Kentucky and Duke each have two losses. Michigan State took a loss earlier this week.Syracuse, though, has coasted through the majority of its schedule in a similar fashion to Saturday’s 93-65 win against Binghamton. The Orange hasn’t played quite as difficult of a schedule, but its unbeaten start will likely be rewarded with the No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press poll on Monday.“I feel like we’re playing well,” SU forward Jerami Grant said. “We haven’t lost yet, so we’re worthy of the No. 2 spot, but we’re definitely going to get as good as possible going later into the season.”Syracuse entered Saturday with a chance to stake its claim as the No. 1 team in the country. The No. 1 Spartans and No. 3 Wildcats had both lost. No. 2 Arizona was caught in a dogfight with UNLV up until the early stages of the first half during the No. 4 Orange’s game against the Bearcats (2-7).But until that game went final about five minutes into SU’s (9-0) eventual blowout win in front of 25,844 fans, Syracuse wasn’t playing one bit like the No. 1 team in the country — not even like the No. 2 team it now seems poised to be. The Orange fell into an early 11-3 hole before reeling off a 28-6 run to put the game away before halftime with the help of 14 first-half points from Trevor Cooney.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe good and bad have come in stretches for SU. Syracuse trailed at halftime of the season opener against Cornell, but pulled out a 22-point victory. The Orange beat St. Francis (N.Y.) by just six during the opening game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.But SU had three solid victories in Lahaina, Hawaii, including one against then-No. 18 Baylor, and beat Indiana by 17 on Tuesday during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.“I think each game we’ve played better and that’s a good sign to be a good team,” said forward C.J. Fair, who led Syracuse with 19 points. “You don’t want to take days off. We came out a little slow today, but I think we played 35 good minutes.”Ultimately, that early scare served as nothing more than a chance for Jim Boeheim to air his frustrations before his team climbs up the polls on Monday. The head coach waited just 2:26 to call his first timeout and yank starting forward Rakeem Christmas from the game.Binghamton charged out to an early lead as Boeheim got into the ear of anyone he could — Christmas on the bench, the rest of his lineup on the floor — and resorted to pressing.Boeheim said after the Orange’s narrow victory against St. Francis that his team isn’t well equipped to press, but on Saturday it swung an eight-point hole into a blowout win.Trevor Cooney got a steal and a bucket. And then there was another steal and a 3. In a matter of minutes, the Orange erased the deficit and rattled off 18 unanswered.It prompted Grant to say that SU is “a great team for pressing.” The length and athleticism wreaks havoc against overmatched rosters, and on Saturday it looked like another weapon up the sleeve of the potential No. 2 team in the country.“It got the game going in the right direction,” Boeheim said.Sparingly used freshmen B.J. Johnson, Ron Patterson and Tyler Roberson found their way onto the floor during the first half. Cooney and Patterson both played some point guard. The game was already decided by halftime.And as the game continued into the second half, Syracuse flashed all the reasons that it will likely stake a claim as the No. 2 team in the country on Monday. Cooney hit five 3-pointers. DaJuan Coleman logged another double-double and grabbed six offensive boards. Fair was an efficient 8-of-15. Grant turned in 14, five and five. Michael Gbinije dished out five assists to just one turnover.Just more than a month ago, after blowing out the Big Red, Boeheim tempered expectations for his team. Even more recently, he said there was a sizable amount of teams better than his Orange.But on Monday there will likely only be one higher in the rankings. It’s still early, but SU has put itself in good position — and in the spotlight — with bigger games on the horizon.“It’s going to put a bigger target on our head and that’s going to have to bring our intensity level up each game because team’s going to try to knock us off,” Fair said. “It can kind of bring the best out of us because we’re going to get the best out of our opponents.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2last_img read more