Gbinije scores 26, Syracuse downs Charlotte 83-70 in Bahamas

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim hoped to use the Battle 4 Atlantis this week to get a better idea of where his team was at early in the season.

Through one game, they look to be on the right track.

Michael Gbinije had 26 points, Trevor Cooney finished with 19 points and the Orange ran past Charlotte 83-70 in the opening round on Wednesday.

Cooney also had five assists. Tyler Lydon added 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Orange led by as many as 25, but had to stave off a late charge by the 49ers, who cut the lead to just nine in the final two minutes. Syracuse was also aided by their outside shooting, finishing with 14 3-pointers.

''When we shoot like that, we don't need a lot of people,'' coach Jim Boeheim said.

He said he was pleased with how his team attacked offensively its opening game.

''Overall, (for) their first game (at the tournament), I really thought we were sharp, really moved the ball well,'' he said. ''Mike and Trevor were really in control of the game.''

Gbinije, who had his second 20-point scoring output of the season, said he tried to exploit the looks that Charlotte gave him.

''I just had a lot of open opportunities tonight and was able to cash in,'' he said.

Joseph Uchebo led Charlotte with 16 points. Braxton Ogbueze added 15 and Bernard Sullivan scored 12.

The 49ers struggled on the offensive end in the first half, but improved to nearly 50 percent in the final 20 minutes.

Charlotte showed fight from the opening minutes of the second half, first trimming what had been a 23-point halftime deficit to 11 at one point.

But neither that, nor their late run was enough to offset what was a scoring barrage from the Orange in the opening 20 minutes.

Syracuse shot 54 percent (19 of 35) in the half, connecting on nine 3-pointers.

Charlotte shot just 27 percent in the half and struggled in the half court offensively, committing seven turnovers.

''I don't think it was us being nervous,'' Ogbueze said. ''We're just a growing team, and coming out we have to pay attention to details, and know what we want to do defensively as a team and stick to the strategy. It'll take some time, but we're definitely growing in that area.''

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TIP-INS

Syracuse outrebounded the 49ers 44-40. ...Charlotte outscored the Orange 42-30 in the paint. ...The 49ers bench also outscored the Orange's bench 24-18.

1,000-POINT CLUB: Cooney joined the 1,000-point scoring club for his career on Wednesday. He entered the game with 999 points. He becomes the 60th player in Orange history to reach the milestone. Syracuse fans inside Imperial Arena began to chant his name at one point in the second half.

REDUCED PENALTIES: The NCAA lessened the punishment on Syracuse Wednesday, ruling that it will only lose eight scholarships over four years rather than 12. The sanctions were imposed in March after a long-term investigation of the athletic department by the NCAA Committee on Infractions and the school appealed. The NCAA did, however, uphold its decision to vacate all men's basketball wins in which an ineligible player participated from 2004 through 2012. That total is 101 victories, which reduces coach Boeheim's career win total from second on the all-time wins list with 969 to sixth at 868. Boeheim declined to comment on the ruling. ''We're just here to play basketball,'' he said.

UP NEXT

Charlotte: Plays the loser of Michigan and Connecticut in the consolation round on Thursday.

Syracuse: Plays the winner of Michigan and Connecticut in the semifinals Thursday.

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

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