Christmas tallies double-double, struggles with foul trouble in Syracuse’s 65-47 win over Hampton

first_img Published on November 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbb If not for his second foul of the half, Rakeem Christmas could’ve had his double-double by the break.Instead, the big man had to wait for the second half to record it. He finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds in No. 23 Syracuse’s (2-0) 65-47 win over Hampton (0-2) in the Carrier Dome on Sunday. It was a promising follow-up for Christmas, who dropped a career-high 21 points to go with nine boards in SU’s season-opening win over Kennesaw State on Friday.“He’s playing like a beast.” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “He’s playing like Rak. That’s how he is. Whenever he gets position, we’ve just got to keep finding him and he’s got to go to work.”But the 6-foot-9 senior also committed four fouls for the second straight game, a trend that could pose trouble down the road for the Orange, whose backup big men are thin and inexperienced.Sophomore Chinonso Obokoh only made his SU debut on Friday night, Doyin Akintobi-Adeyeye is a sophomore walk-on and the injured DaJuan Coleman’s season is in jeopardy.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut head coach Jim Boeheim said he is confident in freshman forward Chris McCullough’s ability to patrol the middle of the 2-3 zone. He said he also expects opposing offenses to target Christmas to attack the Orange’s depth.“He’s not alone. He’s fine,” Boeheim said. “He’ll have some foul problems and he’s learned how to play in those situations and I think he’ll be fine. But big guys do, from time to time, have foul situations and Chris is capable of going in there and playing.“I’m sure people will try to do that.”Christmas’ first foul came 63 seconds into the game as he got tangled up with Hampton’s Dwight Meikle at the elbow.But then he showed off his scoring talent, accounting for eight of the Orange’s first 13 points. Then his passing out of the post by finding sophomore forward B.J. Johnson for a 3.Still, the physicality that the Pirates presented got Christmas in some trouble, as he hacked Meikle once more at the 3:06 mark and had to sit the rest of the half. He committed two fouls within just over four minutes of each other in the second half and had to take a two-minute break.“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Christmas said.Cooney and Christmas both mentioned the big man’s role in the offense as the focal point. Through two games, Christmas has impressed with his improved touch around the rim.But he has yet to exhibit the caution he’ll need to to ensure he stays around the rim and not on the Orange’s bench.“Rak’s physical and I guess the only way to compete with Rak is to try to be physical as well,” forward Michael Gbinije said. “We had depth today, we got some people to step up and Rak still played great.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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