SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Andrew White says it’s way too early to call himself an X factor for No. 18 Syracuse. The fifth-year transfer from Nebraska may just be the difference maker, however, for a team that looks like it may be one of the nation’s elite.
White, who shot 41 percent from 3-point range a year ago, signed with the Orange the day before fall classes started. He gives the Orange a dimension they appeared to be lacking entering the season.
“I definitely think he’s a difference maker,” said fellow fifth-year transfer John Gillon. “The way he spreads the floor and how quick his release is there’s really not five people who can shoot like that in the nation.”
White scored 19 points, Tyler Lydon had 17, and Syracuse went on a 14-0 run in the first half to take control and overpower Holy Cross 90-46 on Tuesday night.
Syracuse (2-0) shot 58 percent from the field and was 13 for 25 on 3-pointers. White went 5 of 10 from beyond the arc after going 2 of 7 in the Orange’s season opener against Colgate.
“He’s a huge piece of this team,” Lydon said. “He can do a lot of great things on the court. Adding him was huge for us. Anytime you have a guy who can space the floor like that’s huge.”
White, a modest sort, preferred to let his teammates do the talking.
“I’d rather that question be answered by my teammates,” White said. “They’re the ones evaluating what my value is. I just try to come in and take care of business, take pressure off my teammates. I think that’s what I’ll do most.”
And just two games into the season, White says talk of his importance is a tad premature.
“I think we’re all critical. I think we’re all X factors. As far as me being the X factor I think it’s a little early now to be saying that. I’m just trying to come in and do my job.”
And his job is knocking down 3s, a skill in which he has supreme confidence.
“My motto is if a shoot a shot it’s supposed to go in,” he added. “That’s why I don’t get too excited when I hit a three or celebrate too much. My coaches and teammates expect the shot to go in when I attempt it.”
Coach Jim Boeheim praised White.
“He was geared up tonight. He was ready to go. He was focused in,” Boeheim said. “He’s a shooter. Obviously that’s what he does. We’re happy we have him here.”
Tyus Battle was 3 of 5 from long range, while Gillon made two while adding 15 points, nine assists and just one turnover off the bench.
Anthony Thompson had 12 points, while Robert Champion and Malachi Alexander had eight apiece for the Crusaders (0-2). The Crusaders shot just 31 percent for the game.
Asked what he would take away from the game, Holy Cross coach Bill Carmody had a succinct response: “Nothing.”
Besides their 3-point attack, the Orange tallied 18 second-chance points, had 32 inside the paint, and scored 31 points off Holy Cross turnovers. The Orange outrebounded the smaller Crusaders 39-27. At one point in the first half, Syracuse had a 16-3 advantage on the boards.
The Orange led 22-14 when they went on their 14-0 blitz to take control. The run featured four 3-pointers, two by White and one each by Frank Howard and Battle. Syracuse led 49-23 at the half.
Holy Cross: It’s not fair to judge Holy Cross’s outlook for the 2016-17 season based on Tuesday’s outcome, but we may know more after Friday’s matchup against UMass.
Syracuse: This is one of Jim Boeheim’s best offensive teams in years. The Orange can beat teams inside and out.
POLL IMPLICATIONS: With the nation’s top teams playing each other this week, the Orange could find themselves moving up in the rankings.
SOPHOMORE SLUMP OVER: Tyler Lydon was 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in Syracuse’s two exhibition games and 0-for-3 in the season opener but he was 2-of-3 Tuesday.
MICROWAVE: Gilllon is proving to be quite the spark off the bench for Boeheim. The transfer from Colorado State now has 28 points, 15 assists and just one turnover in two games.
NO TREY, NO WAY: Holy Cross was just of 9-of-32 from 3 for 28 percent.
Holy Cross tries for its first win of the young season when the Crusaders host UMass on Sunday.
Syracuse, a bubble team that made last year’s NCAA Tournament, hosts Monmouth, a bubble team that did not, Friday.