first_img Published on November 21, 2014 at 11:05 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Facebook Twitter Google+ NEW YORK – Kaleb Joseph wasn’t supposed to try to win the game. Jim Boeheim said he should’ve given the ball to Rakeem Christmas or Chris McCullough.But when the freshman point guard pulled up at the free-throw line with 43 seconds left, trying to extend a one-point lead, he could’ve punctuated the contest. He didn’t, but he had helped play Syracuse to a point where it ultimately wouldn’t matter.On Thursday night, the Orange (3-1) had to play in spite of its guards. And while bad passes and clanked open 3s persisted in a 66-63 win over Iowa (2-2) in Friday’s 2K Classic consolation game on Friday, Joseph and junior shooting guard Trevor Cooney’s improved play put its big men on the scoreboard, kept Rakeem Christmas out of trouble and — just barely — kept SU ahead of the Hawkeyes.“It was good to just be a ball player again,” Cooney said.In the first half, Cooney found frustration. With 12:15 left in the frame, he missed his third 3 of the game but stole the ball back seconds later only to bounce a wide-open dunk off the back of the rim.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut he would finish the first half with a pair of assists and the game with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 3-of-9 from 3. Joseph had four helpers, beating his total from the Orange’s loss to California on Thursday night.They both ensured that Syracuse’s bigs were a consistent threat. SU led 34-29 and McCullough and Christmas’ combined point totals only trailed Iowa 29-20 as the Orange got better in its ongoing effort to get its most consistent threats the ball.And they made sure SU’s best weapon got to play 33 minutes Friday night.“They stopped people from coming down in the lane,” Christmas said. “That’s foul trouble for me.”Still, the Orange guards all but wasted a 15-point lead. The Hawkeyes defended Syracuse from a three-quarters-court press after makes for much of the first half.Twice, trying to break the press, Cooney caught a pass from a teammate, bounced the ball once, picked up his dribble then threw the ball away. There was nothing terribly confusing about Iowa’s press, as he and Syracuse were all but beating themselves.“Honestly, we just made stupid decisions,” said Joseph, who finished with seven points and eight assists. “We tried to force the ball up the sidelines and in the press you always want to keep the ball in the middle and attack.”The press had worked to the point where an offense that zipped the ball around Iowa defenders early in the second half came out of a timeout with 1:34 remaining holding just a 61-60 lead after a 17-4, 6:43 Hawkeyes run.In that span, Joseph coughed up two of his four turnovers, committed two of his four fouls and shot two of his 10 misses. Cooney had one of his three turnovers.But while the press had sapped away the Syracuse lead, Cooney’s 3-point stroke, if only a little, had warmed up. Iowa guard Josh Oglesby stood just inches away from Cooney off the ball, 10 feet from the basket.Instead of rolling out to the arc, though, Cooney cut to the hoop, Christmas threw him a two-handed pass and the SU guard laid the ball in to give the Orange a 63-60 lead with 1:30 to play.From there, all Cooney and Joseph had to do was foul Hawkeye shooters before they could shoot and watch the Orange big men snare rebounds off free throws.“We felt like if we would’ve played the right way yesterday with energy, that’s a game we definitely could’ve walked away with a W,” Joseph said. “We don’t want any other team to take one of those from us this year.” Commentslast_img read more