The hoopla over Saturday’s Cornell-Syracuse tilt being the Battle of the Boeheims gave way to a good basketball game, with the Big Red clinging to a lead with six minutes to play.
But several bad shots and turnovers down the stretch along with a couple of tough shots falling for the lethal Tyus Battle-Frank Howard combo for Syracuse brought the Big Red down, resulting in a 63-55 Syracuse victory.
and because of that Syracuse was able to escape with a 63-55 victory. Cornell dropped back to 4-4 while Syracuse went to 5-2.
This upset bid couldn’t have been possible without one person: Matt Morgan. He was unstoppable. Heat check after heat check kept falling for the 6-foot-2 senior guard from Concord, N.C., who looked like he could star in the ACC the way he played, posting 26 points off of 9-for-14 shooting and 6-for-10 from deep.
With Syracuse (5-2) being one of the biggest teams in size in the country, he couldn’t really compete for rebounds, and went reboundless. But Steven Julian and Jimmy Boeheim had five rebounds apiece, all at times when they desperately needed a stop and the ball. Boeheim added nine points, besting his brother Buddy for Syracuse who had three points on a triple. Julian also notched six assists, and Cornell (4-4) passed the ball pretty well all night. Josh Warren had a good night again for the Big Red, having eight points off of four makes and just a lone miss.
Right off the bat, Cornell trailed after Tyus Battle grabbed the jump-ball and took it two the rack for two. Cornell struggled to get looks in the game, but especially in the first half. The Big Red had five shot-clock violations, with three of them in the opening minutes. But they got a few good shots from Terrance McBride, Josh Warren, and of course, Matt Morgan. The Big Red were up five points after a mid-range jumper fell for Matt Morgan, but Syracuse went on a huge run, similar to what happened to Cornell against UConn, and trailed by nine points at the half, 33-24.
Cornell went down 15 early in the second half but fought back with the three-pointer. Jack Gordon connected on a three, but soon after, Matt Morgan unleashed his inner Steph Curry and Cornell was back in this game. The Big Red came all the way back and took a 48-47 lead with 7:53 to go off of, you guessed it, a Matt Morgan bomb. They flirted back and forth for a few minutes, then Tyus Battle hit a tough three-pointer and drove for an easy layup, and Syracuse led by four at the final media timeout. With the lead cut to four again with two minutes left after a mid-range uncontested jumper fell for Josh Warren, Frank Howard hit a three-pointer for his only points of the night, and that about sealed it.
Cornell shot the ball 9-for-23 from deep (39 percent) and was only outrebounded by one, 25-24, incredible since Syracuse has three guys at 6-foot-10 or bigger, with at least one of the three in at all times (Bourama Sidibe, Paschal Chukwu, and Marek Dolezaj). At 6-foot-9, Cornell’s tallest is reserve Kobe Dickson. Cornell had 14 turnovers compared to 10 for Syracuse, but five of those for the Big Red were shot-clock violations. The Big Red were seemingly unaware of the shot clock in the first few minutes of the game. Cornell allowed Syracuse to shoot 38 percent from deep, average, but Brian Earl is likely happy with that, especially against a power-five team.
This game may be one of the games that gets Matt Morgan drafted. His draft stock increased so much in just one night, and this game was on national television, so a lot of people got to see this kid put on a show.
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 26 points, his best game of the season, and Oshae Brissett had 19 points.
For highlights of the game, courtesy of ACC Digital Network, click here.
Cornell doesn’t play for two weeks because of finals, so let’s break down its next six games, and don’t worry: It gets good.
12/16 – At Niagara: The Big Red start the second half of their nonconference at the now 2-4 Niagara Purple Eagles. They lost to Niagara 89-86 in Ithaca last year. Matt Morgan had 33 points, and his attempt to send the game to overtime went down and out. But then, Niagara had guard duo Matt Scott and Kahlil Dukes, who each had over 20 points. Now, big man Dominic Robb is stepping up, averaging 14 points, six rebounds, and four blocks a game. This is a good game to shake the rust off, and a very winnable one.
12/17- Home against Longwood: This first back-to-back of the year for Cornell is a rather strange one, a Sunday afternoon on the road and then Monday night at home. Cornell beat Longwood last year, 69-62, off of 25 points for Matt Morgan. Longwood is a solid 6-3 with a win over Richmond of the A-10. But if you follow college basketball, then you know that the A-10 is off to a rather rough start. Their other opponents haven’t been the strongest, and Cornell should be a good test for them. This is obviously another winnable game.
12/19 – At Toledo: This game is gonna be a tough one, Cornell’s third game in four days after a seven-and-a-half-hour drive against a squad that is now 7-1. They haven’t played any heavyweights, and their loss is to a 4-4 Wright State team. Cornell, however beat this team at home last year, 80-77, and they really only lost Tre’Shaun Fletcher. That’s a big loss, but guys like Nate Navigato, Luke Knapke and Jalen Sanford are stepping up and getting wins. Don’t forget, Toledo was a few shots away from winning the MAC championship last season, and have a very good chance to get to the finals again.
12/22- At SMU: SMU has lost three buy games, almost losing a fourth. This game is going to be closer than most think. Cornell has a shot if it plays solid defense, as the Big Red have three guys that average double-digit points. But if Matt Morgan gets going, they can beat anyone. Side note, this is also a homecoming game for Jack Gordon, as he is from Dallas.
12/30- Home against Navy: Should be another very winnable game for Cornell, with Navy currently at 2-4. The Midshipmen lost by 17 to Brown, a team that Cornell is just as good as, if not better than. If the Big Red shoot the ball even just average, they should win by a fairly large margin.
1/2- At Wake Forest: Cornell’s fourth and final buy game. Wake Forest is at 4-3 right now and has definitely struggled. WFU lost a buy game itself and lost to two bottom-half A-10 teams. Cornell has another good shot if it executes and should have a lot of support. This is Matt Morgan’s homecoming, with his hometown of Concord just an hour from Winston-Salem.