NEW YORK -- A quick take on Syracuse's 69-63 win over Stanford on Friday evening at Madison Square Garden.
What it means: Syracuse comes from behind for the second time this week here in the Big Apple and wins the NIT Season Tip-Off. Coach Jim Boeheim wanted his No. 5-ranked Orange to be tested after four easy wins to start the season, and they certainly were. But they showed great poise in pulling out both games -- an indication of good things to come.
Stanford, picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 in the conference's preseason poll, had a very impressive week as well at the Garden, blowing out Oklahoma State and playing Syracuse down to the wire. The Cardinal should exceed expectations this season.
The skinny: Stanford hung right with Syracuse in a first half that scored high in energy levels but rather low in artistic impression. The Cardinal had 15 -- yes, 15! -- first-half turnovers, while the Orange weren't much better with 12. The lead changed nine times over the first 20 minutes, with neither team leading by more than four. Stanford led 25-24 at intermission.
Both teams came out hot to start the second half, the lead changing hands several times in the first few minutes alone. Finally Stanford put some distance between the two teams with a 9-2 run, capped off by an Aaron Bright trey with 6:45 remaining to make the score 55-47 Cardinal. But the Orange weren't done. Kris Joseph took over, scoring nine straight points for his team in one stretch, and his bank shot with 2:53 remaining gave Syracuse the lead again, 61-60. It was a wild finish from there, with the Garden crowd loud and on its feet. Freshman guard Chasson Randle hit a big 3-pointer to cut a 64-60 Syracuse lead to 64-63. But then Dion Waiters made his second huge bucket in a row to put Syracuse back up three, and the Orange held off Stanford in the final minute.
Under the lights: Five different Syracuse players were in double figures, but Joseph and Waiters were the ones who got it done down the stretch for the Orange. Joseph finished with a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds, and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Waiters had a big 10 points off the bench.
Bright led Stanford with 13 points, and Randle added 12 -- both performed very well in both games here in New York.
Number crunch: When a team commits 24 turnovers, it usually isn't going to win -- Stanford almost pulled off that feat on Friday night. It helped that Syracuse had turnover problems as well, with 21.
What's next: Syracuse returns upstate to host Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Stanford flies cross-country back home and will welcome Pacific to Maples Pavilion on Monday night at 10 p.m.