The Cornell Big Red fell to the DePaul Blue Demons, 75-54, at Wintrust Arena Saturday as they struggled to shoot all game and piece together stops in the first half.
The Big Red actually got off to the start that they wanted, holding a 21-20 lead with nine minutes left in the first half. Then, the Blue Demons finished the half on a 23-7 run to take a commanding 43-28 lead into the locker room.
Cornell pieced a few stops together in the second half, but it didn’t matter as it was unable to come back to the now 5-0 Blue Demons. The Big Red have now lost three straight and sit at 1-3.
Terrance McBride led the way for the Big Red with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Jimmy Boeheim had 12 points as he struggled to shoot again, but finally connected on some shots late.
Dean Noll had 10 points off the bench with two threes and led the team with seven rebounds. Noll has looked really good this year, and I think that Bryan Knapp’s starting spot could be in jeopardy. Knapp had just three points. The new and improved Kobe Dickson came off the bench with seven points and five boards.
But what really killed the Big Red was that Thurston McCarty had just two points and Josh Warren was held scoreless.
Cornell actually did a really nice job defending the three-point line. The Big Red held DePaul to 29% from there, but the Blue Demons’ size and strength showed as they kept getting it done at the rim. The Big Red also stole the ball 10 times and turned the ball over 14 times.
Through four games, the Big Red rank just 306th in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom, but their offense hasn’t been too bad. They are in the top 100 in turnover percentage and 45th in two-point field goal percentage at 56%. They have done a good job keeping the ball in play, meaning most turnovers are just steals by the defense. They haven’t been traveling or stepping out of bounds or anything, putting them in the top 30 of that category.
So basically, what teams are going to do is put backcourt pressure on the Big Red, and make them shoot threes. On Wednesday, the Big Red take on the Syracuse in the Carrier Dome in episode three of the “Battle of the Boeheims.” What you might see happen is Jim Boeheim tighten his 2-3 zone up a little bit and bring his perimeter guards in a few steps to protect the inside and try to force threes from Cornell.
If Cornell starts taking and making those threes, Boeheim may have to push his perimeter guards back out again, and that’s when the Big Red would want to start using guys like Warren or McCarty on back cuts to the rim for quick layups and dunks.
The key to beating Syracuse has a lot to do with Dean Noll and freshman Jordan Jones. They are three-point shooters, and they need to be able to make threes. There’s no Matt Morgan to bail out a bad possession, so the Big Red need to get good looks and cash in every single time.
Wednesday’s game is at 7:30 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.