SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- The constants for Syracuse this season had
been freshman Carmelo Anthony starring on offense and the zone
defense struggling to stop teams inside.
The Orangemen, playing hours after entering the Top 25 for the
first time this season, had all five starters in double figures and
the 2-3 zone was very effective in a 76-69 victory over No. 11
Missouri on Monday night.
"We took a big step with our defense today,'' coach Jim Boeheim
said of his (ESPN/USA Today unranked, No. 25 AP) Orangemen. "And any time you have balance on offense that's the key to a good basketball team.''
Syracuse (11-1) was that in its first game this season against a ranked
team and its 11th straight win.
Hakim Warrick had 20 points for Syracuse, which held the Tigers
(10-2) to 38 percent shooting, well off their 48.3 mark entering
the game and 12 points below their average for the season. The
Tigers also had a season-high 20 turnovers.
"It's tough to have 20 turnovers against a good team and that's
how our opportunities were squandered,'' Missouri coach Quin Snyder
said. "They make you take some tough shots but we had some open
ones we missed, too.''
Warrick had 10 rebounds and he was joined in a double-double by
Anthony, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Gerry McNamara
added 14 points and seven assists for Syracuse, while Craig Forth
had 11 points and Kueth Duany 10.
Ricky Clemons had 26 points, 10 above his season average, and
seven assists for Missouri. Center Arthur Johnson, who was coming
in off three straight double-doubles including 30 points and 15
rebounds in the last game against Baylor, finished with 17 points
and 11 rebounds. But he was never a factor against Syracuse's 2-3
zone which had been having trouble stopping players inside.
"Coach just really came out and challenged everyone that plays
the bottom of the zone,'' Warrick said. "We were just more active,
made everything tough for them, didn't give them any easy looks.
Whenever they had an open shot we would foul them and make them
earn it at the line.''
Johnson was 6-for-14 from the field.
"It was a good zone but we prepared for it,'' he said. "Those
were shots I usually make.''
Warrick scored on a nice spin move with 10:58 left to give
Syracuse a 61-48 lead. Missouri then went on a 9-0 run -- with five
players scoring -- to get within 61-57 with 8:15 to play.
Syracuse responded with a 10-0 run of its own. It started with a
3-pointer by McNamara, who came into the game shooting 40 percent
from beyond the arc but had missed his first four of the game.
McNamara added another 3 in the run and Anthony capped it with a 3
that made it 71-57 with 5:59 to play.
"That one run really hurt us when McNamara made those shots,''
Boeheim said McNamara and Anthony suddenly hitting 3s -- the
Orangemen were 2-for-11 until then -- was only part of that run.
"Those were big baskets but the defense really picked up at the
same time,'' he said.
Warrick's big game followed a 24-point effort in the Orangemen's
win over Boston College on Saturday.
The only phase of the game where Syracuse struggled was the free
throw line where it went 11-for-22 with Warrick going 4-for-11.
The only other game this season where Missouri shot less than 40
percent was its other loss, to Illinois.
"The zone was a challenge but I thought we did a good job of
attacking it,'' Snyder said. "I saw some positives in this game,
like how we handled adversity.''
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