BOSTON (AP) Boston College coach Jim Christian decided a few weeks ago that Ky Bowman was going to quarterback his basketball team.
It was the perfect analogy for a player that was recruited to play that sport at another Atlantic Coast Conference school.
Bowman scored 30 points with nine assists, Jerome Robinson had 22 points and BC halted a 20-game ACC losing streak with a 96-81 win over Syracuse Sunday in the league opener for both schools.
“Like in the NFL when they say: `You’re the quarterback. We’re going to ride you and get you better. Keep making you learn and letting you play through different situations,”‘ Christian said he told Bowman, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard who was recruited to play receiver at North Carolina.
The Eagles shot 57.1 percent, tearing apart Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and connected on 16 of 26 shots from 3-point range. Bowman was 7-of-8.
“Just being able to motivate my team and bring energy on and off the floor,” he said of his new role.
A.J. Turner added 16 points and Nik Popovic 11 for Eagles (8-6), who went 0-18 last season in league play before losing their one game in the tournament. It was their first conference win since a 66-65 victory over Georgia Tech in the 2015 ACC tourney.
Andrew White III led the Orange (8-6) with 22 points. Tyler Lydon had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Taurean Thompson scored 14 and Tyler Roberson added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“We haven’t had a good defensive effort against any team that’s any good,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “If our defense wasn’t going to get better by now, it’s a long shot that it’s going to get a lot better. It’s not just a little bit off, it’s so far off that it looks like we haven’t worked on it.”
BC pushed its 11-point halftime lead to 67-46 on Jordan Chatman’s 3-pointer from the right corner 6 1/2 minutes into the second half.
In a strange scene for a home team, the Eagles quieted a crowd that had about 70 percent of them rooting for Syracuse – with many dressed in orange.
Unlike last year, when the partisan Syracuse crowd broke into chants of `Let’s Go Orange!’ many times during the second half, there was hardly a loud cheer for the visitors.
SU was down by 17 or more from the 13-minute mark until the final minute.
“We just didn’t come out to play and that’s what happens,” Lydon said. “This one really hurts a lot.”
Syracuse: Judging by the start, it could be a tough year for the Orange. They lost by 33 at home against St. John’s two games ago and looked confused offensively on a number of possessions Sunday. In addition, BC seemed to find holes against their 2-3 zone.
“They obviously had high expectations like I do for this group,” Boeheim said. “I think this is a group with talent, but they have not been able to adjust to the way you have to play in college.”
Boston College: For a team that went winless in league play last year, it had to be a big motivational boost. With Bowman emerging to join Robinson as a scorer, it looks like the Eagles have two legitimate scorers – something that’s needed in a tough conference.
“We don’t have to buy into it and we don’t,” Christian said. “Even when we lost games we feel like we should have won.”
HOW ABOUT THAT
Bowman had a highlight play late in the first half.
He got a rebound of his own miss while lying on his back near the base line, looked up and fed Popovic in the lane for a layup.
SU had a few woeful plays, but the worst may have been late in the first half when Lydon was attempting to grab a rebound and tipped it in for a basket for BC. Popovich was credited with the bucket.
Syracuse: Host Miami on Wednesday in the first of two straight at the Carrier Dome.
Boston College: At Wake Forest on Tuesday to open a two-game road trip.