SYRACUSE Syracuse University is going to find itself in plenty of games like this during the pre-Atlantic Coast Conference season.
Ugly games against inferior opponents where officials enforce new hand-checking and grabbing rules that often turn into free-throw shooting contests.
The No. 7 Orange (2-0) survived a foul-plagued, second-half defensive effort, riding a hot first half to an 89-74 nonconference win over Fordham before a crowd of 22,667 Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome.
Senior C.J. Fair scored a career-high 26 points as SU rolled to a 46-21 halftime edge, then allowed the Rams to stay in the game in the second half by allowing 53 points.
We were very efficient offensively the first half (shooting 53 percent), and didnt allow their guards to penetrate or get open shots, SU coach Jim Boeheim said.
The second half we just stopped guarding, Boeheim added. I think the kids thought the game was over. They have two great guards, as good a pair as well see this year, and we just didnt do a good job stopping them.
Sophomore Jeremi Grant scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, freshman Tyler Ennis contributed 16 points and five assists, and sophomore DaJuan Coleman also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for SU.
Branden Frazier kept Fordham (1-1) in the game with a career-high 33 points.
There were 55 personal fouls, 72 free throws attempted and 50 made, including 29 of 42 by SU.
At times, it looked like a typical NBA game with a constant parade to the foul line.
A lot of the calls were kind of ticky-tac, but I guess thats how they are going to call it, said Fair, who made 9 of 17 shots and was 7-for-7 at the foul line. But that is something we can work on going forward and hopefully clean up.
Boeheim said he thinks the officials are overreacting a little bit to the newly enforced rules, which are geared to make it easier for drivers to get to the basket freely. Instead of calling just hand-checking, they are calling any kind of contact and that is a lot tougher to adjust to. Many of the calls came 30 or 40 feet from the basket, which is not the reason we put these rules in place.
SU raced out to an 11-2 lead, hitting its first four shots from the field.
Fairs 15-footer extended the lead to 16-4, and Grant scored six points and Michael Gbinije nailed a 3-pointer as the lead grew to 25-8 at the under eight minute timeout.
SU held the Rams to 29 percent shooting the first half, including 2 of 12 on 3-pointers, and allowed them only 10 free throws.
Fordham attacked the middle of the SU 2-3 zone relentlessly the second half.
The Rams shot 14 of 20 at the line, and that also opened up the outside game, where they hit 9 of 15 from behind the arc the final 20 minutes.
I think the new rules help a guy like me who goes strong to the basket, said Grant, who sat out SUs opener last Friday against Cornell for reportedly playing in an extra summer league game. But its going to take some time defensively to understand what they are calling. Most of the players have had it called one way since high school, and this is a pretty radical change.
The Orange still held as much as a 25-point lead (70-45) with 11:20 remaining. But Fordham kept attacking and trimmed the deficit to as few as 14 points with four minutes remaining.
We need to put two good halves together, Fair said.
In the first two games, we played just one good half and still won. But in the tougher games, that will be a lot more difficult, he added.
Boeheim suggested it will take awhile for both the players and refs to adjust to the new rules. They were intended to clean up our game, which has become almost too physical. But I dont think they want a free-throw shooting contest, either.
nNOTES: Fair was named to the Wooden Award national watch list earlier Tuesday. The 6-foot-7 senior from Baltimore is the ACC Preseason Player of the Year.