Roberson, Syracuse beat Elon 66-55
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) At first glance, Tyler Roberson's points total was the number that stood out in Syracuse's 66-55 victory over Elon on Saturday night.
But his career-high of 20 points was built on 16 rebounds, seven on the offensive end - an area in which Syracuse has struggled this season.
''It all starts with rebounding,'' Roberson said. ''I had a lot more opportunities tonight than I did last two games so I think I tried to take advantage of them. I think I was just active in going after rebounds and playing hard. When I do that, I think good things happen.''
Michael Gbinije added 16 points for Syracuse while guard Malachi Richardson had 13.
Elon's Tanner Samson hit a 3-pointer with 2:13 left to pull within 61-55, but Richardson and Gbinije combined to make 5 of 6 free throws in the final two minutes to seal it.
Dainan Swoope paced the Phoenix (2-2) with 12 points. The Orange's 2-3 zone defense clamped down, holding Elon to just 21-of-66 shooting from the field (31.8 percent).
''We took some steps forward tonight,'' Elon coach Matt Matheny said. ''We defended a little better than we had been. I think some of the keys down the stretch for their run was they got good looks. We missed a couple of defensive assignments but we had some costly, costly turnovers.''
Syracuse's Trevor Cooney hit a jumper to tie the game at 39 and Roberson followed with a putback to give Syracuse the lead with 12:37 left.
''The opportunities are there for him,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Roberson. ''He's just got to keep looking for them. We're getting penetration. His man is helping. He's got a clear route to the basket to get the rebound. That's his best way to be productive.''
Richardson sank a foul shot and Gbinije followed with a layup and a free throw to give Syracuse a 47-39 lead with 11:04 remaining.
Elon: Saturday marked the first time Elon and Syracuse have played in men's basketball. . There are only three other current ACC members Elon has not faced: Pittsburgh, Boston College and Louisville. .
Syracuse: Cooney finished with eight points to leave him three shy of 1,000 for his Syracuse career.
Elon hosts Mount St. Mary's on Thursday in the mainland division of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Syracuse faces Charlotte on Wednesday in the Bahamas portion of the Battle 4 Atlantis.