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Syracuse handles Kennesaw State in opener

Nov 15, 2014 - 1:35 PM Syracuse, NY ( - Rakeem Christmas scored 21 points, B.J. Johnson added 19 and No. 23 Syracuse started its season with an easy 89-42 victory over Kennesaw State in the opening game of the 2K Sports Classic.

Chris McCullough and Tyler Roberson each recorded double-doubles for Syracuse, while freshman Kaleb Joseph handed out six assists to go with four points and five rebounds in his debut.

The Orange (1-0) won their first 25 games last season and climbed to No. 1 in the AP poll. They collapsed in late February and March, however, and were given an early exit in the NCAA Tournament by Dayton.

"I thought our defense was good the whole game," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "I think in the first half we were missing a lot of shots around the basket. We were a little anxious. First game, you're going to make some mistakes."

Kennesaw State won as many games as Syracuse lost last season and did not get Jimmy Lallethin's first full season as head coach started on the right foot.

The overmatched Owls (0-1) shot just 32.7 percent from the field and committed 25 turnovers in the drubbing. Nigel Pruitt led the way with 11 points.

The Orange, who are tying to fill the void of losing NBA draft picks Tyler Ennis and Jerami Grant as well as leading scorer C.J. Fair, shot poorly in the first half (35 percent) and only made one field goal outside the lane.

They did, however, force 16 turnovers and pull down 15 offensive rebounds that resulted in 16 second-chance points.

"Everyone (was) just being aggressive and sort of just going after everything," Christmas said.

Syracuse's 16-0 run over a six-minute span paved the way for a 36-16 lead at the break, and the jumpers began falling for the hosts after halftime.

Christmas hit from the outside on consecutive possessions and added two free throw to push the lead to 50-20, and the difference reached as high as 48 down the stretch.

Game Notes

McCullough had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Roberson chipped in 10 and 10 ... Syracuse shot 48.0 percent overall and owned a 56-26 rebounding advantage ... The Orange host Hampton on Sunday ... This was the first-ever meeting between the programs.

    SYRACUSE: 89

    Nov 14 8:58 PM

    SYRACUSE: 36

    Nov 14 7:52 PM

    1st Half - 20:00

    Nov 14 7:07 PM
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