ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Kris Joseph shook off early foul trouble to score 19 points and lead No. 9 Syracuse to an 80-76 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday night to win the Legends Classic.
Scoop Jardine had 15 points and eight assists to keep the Orange (6-0) on track for an undefeated start heading into their game against No. 2 Michigan State on Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden.
Brian Oliver scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Yellow Jackets (4-2). Oliver’s sizzling start from 3-point range gave Georgia Tech an early lead and a feeling of hope they could pull of the upset.
Instead, the Orange clicked all game and found the well-balanced offense that coach Jim Boeheim had complained was missing during the perfect start.
The Syracuse players mugged for photos with their championship trophy and showed it off to the several thousand Orange fans who took over Boardwalk Hall.
Joseph got hammered on a flagrant foul and crashed to the court with 47.5 seconds left. He was down on all fours for a couple of minutes, and Boeheim came and checked on his hurting forward. Boeheim and Joseph walked off the court together.
Oliver was called for the foul and Jardine filled in to shoot the free throws.
Rick Jackson kept his strong start going with 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Dion Waiters scored 13 for the Orange.
Oliver was nearly a one-man show for Georgia Tech, hitting jumpers and 3-pointers from all over the court. He went 12 for 21 from the field and 6 of 11 on 3s. Inman Shumpert had 11 points and eight rebounds.
Boeheim complained after Friday’s win over Michigan that the Orange were struggling shooting the ball. The Orange heard the complaints and responded — 11 of 18 in the second half that helped gradually stretch the lead.
Oliver opened the second half with a 3-pointer that gave him a career high in points and the Yellow Jackets the lead.
From there, Syracuse got going.
Joseph, in foul trouble, buried a 3 for a 51-49 lead. The Orange went out and scored more points by the 12-minute mark (54) than they did the whole game against Michigan (53).
The Orange built a 10-point lead for the first time on two free throws by Joseph.
Oliver ditched the long-range game for a little runner and Jason Morris hit a long jumper to whittle the deficit to 71-63.
But that was about it as far as serious threats for Georgia Tech.
Oliver came out determined to beat the Orange by himself from 3-point range. He opened the game with a 3 and hit two more quick ones to stagger the Orange and help Georgia Tech take a nine-point lead.
Oliver scored 13 of Georgia Tech’s first 23 points and finished the first half with 18 points.
Joseph, who scored 22 points on Friday against Michigan, was whistled for his third foul with 8:33 left in the first half and went to the bench.
Without him, the Orange rallied and finally found the offense Boeheim complained was missing against the Wolverines.
The Orange went on a 12-3 run and took their first lead on C.J. Fair’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. That pushed the lead to 38-36 and it stayed that way at halftime.
Boeheim played hyped freshman Fab Melo 8 minutes in the first half after he benched the 7-footer for good after 4 minutes against Michigan. Boeheim said Melo wasn’t rebounding or playing as a defensive difference maker for the Orange.
Melo was scoreless in 10 minutes on Saturday.