Andrew Renneisen | Staff PhotographerMen's Basketball
Carter-Williams continues dominant play at point guard with season-high 16 assists
Michael Carter-Williams turned and gave a calm fist pump as he ran down the court. It punctuated his seventh assist, an easy chest pass to Trevor Cooney for a 3-pointer on the right wing, and gave Syracuse a 22-point lead – its largest of the game to that point.
Coming out of the ensuing Monmouth timeout, the SU point guard met all five of his teammates on the court. He urged them to keep the run going before taking a seat for the final three minutes of the half.
It was another brilliant half of basketball for Carter-Williams orchestrating Syracuse’s offense. And he would match it in the second half, spearheading the Orange’s (8-0) 108-56 win over Monmouth (5-5) on Saturday night. By the final buzzer, the Carrier Dome crowd witnessed the Syracuse point guard hand out a season-high 16 assists – his seventh game with at least nine assists this season.
“It has to do a lot with my teammates,” Carter-Williams said. “They’re always in the right position, they’re ready to shoot the ball. They’re ready to attack the rim.”
Carter-Williams also showed his ability to shoot and attack the rim, finishing with 15 points to go with four blocks and five steals. Syracuse ran Monmouth off the court, recording 30 assists as a team in its most efficient performance of the season.
And it all started with the 6-foot-6 point guard once again. His play prompted freshman center DaJuan Coleman to say Carter-Williams is “the best point guard in the country right now.”
But Carter-Williams deflected credit to his teammates, who as a team made 51.2 percent of their shots in the 52-point win.
“He was good and everybody made the shots when he passed it tonight,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s been making those passes, he could have had 16 two or three times I thought but we didn’t make them. Tonight they made them.”
Still, Coleman said his point guard makes the game easier for him and the rest of the Orange. And that was clear when Syracuse began the second half with a 29-point lead that ballooned to 42 less than two minutes into the half.
Six seconds in, Carter-Williams lofted an alley-oop for Rakeem Christmas. He found C.J. Fair for a 3 on a kickout in the same minute before whipping another pass down low to Christmas for a finish and a foul.
A dunk following a steal out top followed by another kickout, this time to a wide-open Brandon Triche in the opposite corner for 3 push the Syracuse lead to 70-28.
“We just got it together at halftime and we said ‘Let’s just keep increasing the lead and don’t look back,’ and that’s what we did,” Carter-Williams said. “My teammates knocked down shots, and we got a couple easy steals for layups and we were just rolling from there.”
Carter-Williams keyed one final run that ended with the Orange leading by 50 for the first time.
He dropped off a shovel pass to James Southerland for a two-handed slam along the baseline to put SU up 43. He hung in the air in the lane for a finish and the foul for another three points. Then he ran the break and finished a slam of his own on a give-and-go with Cooney, and stole the ensuing inbounds pass that eventually ended in another dunk by Southerland.
Monmouth had no answer for the point guard. Syracuse led 87-37.
“I mean just watching his game, he just controls it,” Cooney said. “That’s what he’s really good at. He’s a great point guard, that’s what point guards are supposed to do and that’s what he’s doing.
“He’s just taking control of this whole entire team and it’s fun to watch and it’s fun to play with him.”
It’s what he’s done in all eight games to lead the Orange to an unbeaten start.
On Saturday, Monmouth tried to pick him up and pressure him full-court. But Carter-Williams easily dribbled by the smaller Hawks guards. He found his way to the basket with ease for finishes and he went 2-for-4 from beyond the arc.
As he has all season, he found his teammates and piled up assists in the process. Some came on highlight-reel alley-oops while others came on those easy kickouts to open teammates.
And on this night, he pointed to them for his success.
“It has a lot to do with them,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m just there to get them the ball.”
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