C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant lead No. 9 Syracuse past Fordham

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Two games into the season, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim knows one thing: his Orange are a real work in progress.

C.J. Fair scored a career-high 26 points, Jerami Grant added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 9 Syracuse beat Fordham 89-74 on Tuesday night after again playing two entirely different halves.

Syracuse, which started the season with a so-so 82-60 win over Cornell on Friday night after trailing by 14 points late in the first half, had a strong first period against the Rams to take control, then faltered in the second in a game plagued by 55 fouls and 72 free throws under the new NCAA rules.

"First half we were pretty good. We did a pretty good job defensively," Boeheim said. "But in the second half, I think we felt we had control of the game. We lost our defensive edge and they took advantage of it -- and that's something that we obviously have to work on.

"Our guards are inexperienced in terms of playing out there and knowing how to play the front of the zone and keeping guys in front of it, and that's the lesson learned."

Grant, who missed Syracuse's season opener due to a violation of NCAA rules regarding summer-league play, was sharp, hitting 6 of 12 shots and nabbing three steals. Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis had a solid game after scoring his first collegiate basket on a driving layup on the game's first possession. He finished with 16 points, five assists, no turnovers and four of the Orange's 15 steals.

DaJuan Coleman had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Syracuse, while Trevor Cooney, named ACC player of the week after scoring a career-high 27 points against Cornell including 7 of 8 from long range, had two points on 1-of-6 shooting and missed all four attempts he took from beyond the arc.

Branden Frazier had a career-high 33 points for Fordham and freshman Jon Severe added 19, hitting 4 of 10 from long range.

The Orange defense clamped down at the opening tip, limiting the Rams to 2-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc as Severe struggled after a sizzling opening night on Friday, missing three 3-pointers against Syracuse's 2/3 zone and scoring just two points the first half on free throws.

"We went over it (the zone) a lot of times (in practice), but hadn't actually seen it," said Severe, who hit 7 of 10 from long range and scored 28 points in an 87-67 victory over St. Francis, Pa. to open the season. "It was big. I was trying to make passes and kept turning the ball over."

Syracuse outrebounded Fordham 23-10 in the opening half and took a 46-21 halftime lead. In the second half as the teams continued to struggle to find any sort of rhythm amid 32 fouls called, Fordham rallied, outscoring Syracuse 53-43. The Orange were called for 25 fouls, 15 in the second half, while Fordham had 30 fouls in the game.

"We tried to slow them down, but it was hard," Fair said. "We just have to have the mindset to play the whole game and adjust to the referees. It takes a little time. It was tough."

The guard-oriented Rams shot 55.6 percent in the second half and 43.8 percent for the game and finished 11 of 27 from beyond the arc after making just 2 of 12 in the first half.

"I think we'll be able to adjust after a couple of practices," Ennis said. "Coach is pointing out that those (hand checks) are fouls now. After playing a few games, I think everybody will be able to adjust."

Consecutive 3-pointers by Mandell Thomas and Severe and two free throws by Thomas narrowed the Orange lead to 76-60 with 5:44 left, the closest the Rams had been since Grant hit a jumper from the top of the key to give Syracuse a 25-8 lead.

And Fordham wasn't quite through. Frazier hit a jumper in the lane and Ryan Roomes added another and two free throws to cut the lead to 78-66 with 3:33 left, but that was it.

"Obviously, we got a little more comfortable attacking the zone," Fordham coach Tom Pecora said. "But on the same note, teams don't play quite as hard when they're up 25 points all the time. You take that with a grain of salt."

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