Men's Basketball

Youth gives way to experience down the stretch for Syracuse to grind out win

Nate Shron | Staff Photographer

Syracuse celebrates with its trophy for winning the Battle on the Midway Sunday.

ABOARD USS MIDWAY, SAN DIEGO, Calif. — By the 10-minute mark of the first half, Jim Boeheim had made use of all nine players expected to see the floor with regularity this season. But five minutes later, the rotation was already trimmed to six.

Redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney and freshmen DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant got their first taste of Division-I college basketball in the Battle on the Midway on Sunday, but their experiences were brief. The three players saw the court for a combined 19 minutes in ninth-ranked Syracuse’s 62-49 win over No. 20 San Diego State, as Boeheim rode his more experienced players to a gritty victory in the season opener.

“We went with our veterans today in the last part of the game,” Boeheim said. “They did what they needed to do.”

As with the two exhibition games, Coleman was part of the starting lineup on Sunday. But instead of playing on the wing with sophomore Rakeem Christmas in the middle of the 2-3 zone, Coleman occupied the paint against the Aztecs.

He drew the ire of Boeheim twice on offense, though, after turning the ball over. Coleman was stripped on the game’s first possession and later threw a poor pass toward Michael Carter-Williams that was easily stolen in the opening moments of the second half.

His one positive play of the game came on a tip-in following a missed tip by Christmas, and Coleman bellowed on his way back down court.

“Let’s f***ing go!” Coleman yelled. “I’ve got this.”

Cooney didn’t have much of a role on Sunday due mostly to the weather. Breezy conditions that intensified as the game went along made long-range shooting — Cooney’s specialty — both difficult and doubtful. Syracuse attacked the paint relentlessly on Sunday, scoring 44 of its 62 points in the paint.

“We took four 3-point shots,” Boeheim said. “And that was probably a couple too many.”

Grant played a total of six minutes, all of which came in the first half. He grabbed a rebound, committed a foul and missed a mid-range jumper that was his only shot attempt of the game.

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