Fourth-ranked Orange bounce back from 1st loss

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Syracuse had four days to ponder its first loss of the season. Consider it forgotten.

Hakim Warrick scored 20 points, Gerry McNamara added 18 and the fourth-ranked Orange beat Binghamton 86-56 on Saturday night, bouncing back from their loss to No. 5 Oklahoma State in the Jimmy V Classic.

"You want to put it behind you. No matter what, no matter how hard you play, it's a long season and you're going to have to lose some games," said Warrick, who missed only 1-of-6 free throws after botching eight against the Cowboys. "It's good to go out there, get that experience early in the year against a tough team. We just have to put it behind us and learn from it, and tonight was a good step forward."

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is banking on his four sophomores to provide some needed punch, and two delivered against Binghamton.

Guard Louis McCroskey had a career-high 11 points in his first start for the Orange and forward Darryl Watkins had eight to go with eight rebounds. Forward Terrence Roberts, who has played the most among the four, injured his right thumb in practice Friday and did not play.

"I knew a couple of days beforehand (that I would start), but I don't think I was supposed to know," said McCroskey, who hit two 3-pointers in 28 minutes after not scoring in four minutes Tuesday. "I was just ready anyway. You've got to be ready. All the hard work paid off."

Syracuse was the highest-ranked opponent the Bearcats (2-5) ever faced, but the Orange (8-1) didn't take charge until the second half.

Leading 36-28, Syracuse scored the first eight points after the break as the Bearcats, who play in the America East Conference, missed their first four shots.

"It was a great first half," Binghamton coach Al Walker said. "We have been a very good team in segments this year. We have not been a good team for the majority of 40 minutes. So we'll take a good 20 minutes and work hard to get ready for our league opener."

Binghamton fell behind 44-28 on a turnaround jumper in the lane by Warrick off a feed from center Craig Forth. Without a point in the previous three games, Forth had two baskets to start a 16-6 run that put the game out of reach.

With Syracuse in a trapping defense, McNamara had a steal and fed Warrick for a one-hand slam dunk. Seconds later, McCroskey stole the ball again and hit a layup to end the spurt and put Syracuse up 60-36 with 13:39 left.

That effectively ended any dreams of an upset for the Bearcats.

"I expected to win the game. I think we can beat anybody," said junior guard Andre Heard, who led Binghamton with 17 points. "We've just got to match people's energy, and that's what we didn't do in the second half. We went into the locker room down
eight, and we were stressing how important the first five minutes of the second half were. We knew they were going to come out and press, and we didn't handle the press very well."

Another positive sign for the Orange was the continued improvement in the play of junior point guard Billy Edelin, who finished with a season-high 10 points in 11 minutes. Edelin, a key member of Syracuse's 2003 national championship team, did not practice with the team until Nov. 21 because of academic problems and has only played in four games.

"I think he made some good plays tonight," Boeheim said. "There were some real positive signs there. Even in practice, he's not close to where he was. This is something that I think still is going to take a lot of time. Realistically, I thought it would take until January, and I think that's going to be the case."