Saturday, November 22, 2014

Texas takes 2K Classic; Syracuse wins Consolation Game

The Texas Longhorns with the 2K Classic Championship trophy. Photo by Jason Schott.
By Jason Schott of - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19

The Texas Longhorns, the 10th-ranked team in the country, beat California handily in the Championship Game of the 2K Classic, 71-55, on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Texas dominated this game from the start, and they jumped out to a 14-4 lead on a Jonathan Holmes layup a few minutes in. They expanded the lead to 14, at 26-12, on a Connor Lammert layup with 5:33 left in the first half. They took a 31-21 lead into halftime.

California came out strong in the second half, and cut it to 6, at 33-27, on a Tyrone Wallace jumper with 17:02 left. Texas responded with an 8-2 run, capped by a Demarcus Holland three-point play to make it 41-29 at the 15:39 mark. The closest Cal got after that was 43-36 on a Tyrone Wallace jumper with 13:36 left. From then on, Texas was in full control, and blew it open when Cameron Ridley hit a jumper to give them a 17-point lead, at 60-43, with 5:12 remaining.

2K Classic MVP Jonathan Holmes of Texas. Photo by Jason Schott.
Holmes, the Longhorns' senior forward, won 2K Classic MVP honors with 21 points on 6-for-11 from the field (1-3 on 3-pointers) and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes. Holland had 11 points and 5 rebounds, while Lammert had 6 points and 9 rebounds. Junior point guard Javan Felix had 9 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds, and freshman forward Myles Turner had 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Syracuse lost to California in the opening game on Thursday night, while Iowa lost to Texas, setting up the consolation game to start Friday night's doubleheader.

Syracuse led Iowa 34-29 at halftime and opened up a 50-35 lead eight minutes into the second half on a layup by Chris McCullough. Syracuse maintained that lead for the next few minutes, going up 14, at 57-43, on a Michael Gbinije dunk with 8:36 left.

Iowa responded, and went on a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, led by forward Jarrod Uthoff, who had 8 points in the stretch, Aaron White, and Adam Woodbury. Syracuse responded, as McCullough got a dunk to make it 61-58 with 2:21 left, and White responded with a dunk of his own to cut it back to a point.

Syracuse got a big layup from Trevor Cooney with 1:25 left, and Iowa got a layup from Woodbury to make it 63-62 with 55 seconds left. Syracuse's Kaleb Joseph missed a jumper with 40 seconds left, leaving Iowa with plenty of time to get a go-ahead basket. The Syracuse defense tightened up, and Iowa was forced to call a timeout with 14 seconds left, and when they came out of that, McCullough got a steal. That was essentially it, as they traded free throws in the final 10 seconds leading to Syracuse's 66-63 win.

Syracuse was led by the Bronx native McCullough, who had 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and 9 rebounds in 38 minutes. Senior center Rakeem Christmas was able to do whatever he wanted on offense, and he finished with 18 points on 7-for-11 from the field, and 6 rebounds. Cooney finished with 14 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds.

Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said of the win, "In the first part of the second half, I thought we finally got our offense going. We were able to get different guys to get into position to score and we played really the best offense that we've played and then with the lead they came with a three-quarter-court trap and we threw it away fur times. That allows people to get open shots and now they're back in the game. Kaleb made a good play when we had the and-one and then he tried to win the game with a jump shot when he should have really been thinking about trying to get the ball inside to Chris or Rak, but freshmen are going to do that.

"I thought at the end of the game Chris made a great steal, came across our trap and just made a great play and that was the game. If he doesn't come across and get that one, we don't win. It was a great play. You know, we obviously have a lot of work to do on offense. I thought Trevor and Kaleb were more aggressive today and that's good and Chris and Rak were good, we've just got to do a better job of getting them the ball down low, but we did a fairly good job, but we've certainly got a lot of work to do on the offensive end," said Boeheim.

Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffery said, "In the first half, I thought we attacked the zone pretty well early. We were getting the ball to to the rim, we fumbled it out of bounds, we fumbled a lob that looked like it was going to be a dunk. You shouldn't turn the ball over 11 times against the zone. That really put us in a tough spot, down five at the half. First part of the second half, I thought we were really good, which is an important step because last night coming out of the half we weren't very good. We played better, then they go on a run and give them credit for how they played and how they executed at that point of the game. They stretched it a little bit but we didn't panic, we didn't collapse, we kept executing, we pressed them, we got positive play from our press, created some offense, Jarrod (Uthoff) hit a couple of big shots, we played with a lot of energy and managed the game well, I thought. We put ourselves in position to win and that's a good step for us."

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