Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas, center, grabs a rebound under pressure by Hampton's Jervon Pressley, left, and Dwight Meikle, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)
Nick Lisi
November 16, 2014

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) On the eve of his 70th birthday, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim got an early gift from his Orange.

Rakeem Christmas had 15 points and 16 rebounds, freshman Chris McCullough added 13 points, and No. 23 Syracuse beat Hampton 65-47 on Sunday in the 2K Classic.

Faced with the sort of zone defense that they've thrived on under Boeheim, the Orange held off Hampton in a game that was close until the final minutes.

''The first time you play against a zone a whole game you're not as fluid,'' Boeheim said. ''But we did some good things, although we didn't attack it quite as well as we'd like to.''

Syracuse opened the season Friday night with an 89-42 win over Kennesaw State. Hampton dropped its opener 90-56 at Iowa.

Hampton has four starters back from a team that went 18-13 last year in the MEAC and has added Quinton Chievous, a graduate student transfer from Tennessee. Chievous had 17 points to lead the Pirates.

The Pirates stayed close until late and were left to wonder what might have been if their travel plans had not been short-circuited. Their flight to Syracuse was canceled at 1 a.m. Sunday and they didn't arrive until late morning, enough to grab a bite to eat and head to the Carrier Dome.

The Pirates were called for 22 fouls, nine more than the Orange, and were outscored 16-3 from the line.

''I think everything we wanted to accomplish, we accomplished,'' Hampton coach Edward Joyner Jr. said. ''We were able to slow the game down. We were able to keep it manageable. They made a few plays at the end. We didn't.''

''We played well, but we didn't finish. We're 0-2, but I think we can grow,'' he said.

Michael Gbinije, who sat out the opener for Syracuse, had nine points, Trevor Cooney eight and freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph had five points and five assists for the Orange.

Syracuse outrebounded Hampton 38-32 after finishing with a 30-rebound edge in the opener.

The Orange built a 39-27 lead early in the second half on a follow by Christmas. Chievous countered with a 3 and a fast-break layup by Deron Powers had the Pirates back within seven with 16:30 to go.

A one-handed slam dunk by Chievous and four points in close by Dwight Meikle narrowed the gap to 48-42 with 8:17 on the clock.

Syracuse responded with a 10-0 run as Hampton missed five straight shots. Consecutive three-point plays by Tyler Roberson and Gbinije gave the Orange a 56-42 lead with 3:36 left.

''We're not going to have many easy games,'' Boeheim said.

Hampton regularly attacked the baseline trying to get inside the Orange 2-3 zone and succeeded often. Syracuse led most of the first half, but never by more than six points until the final seconds, when Roberson hit a baseline jumper to give the Orange a 35-27 halftime lead.


Hampton: Chievous appears ready to take advantage of his new home. He shot 7 of 13, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Syracuse: Boeheim's 950 wins are two more than all of the other Orange men's basketball coaches in school history combined.


Hampton plays at Alcorn State on Friday.

Syracuse faces California on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

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