Christmas heads into Duke matchup coming off worst offensive showing of season

first_img Published on February 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Rakeem Christmas shrugged his arms at the referee as he backpedaled up the court.He had been hounded in the post for the game’s first 19 minutes. He hadn’t scored a point. He had turned the ball over three times.So when he finally connected on a short jumper over the outstretched arms of Boston College’s Dennis Clifford and Patrick Heckmann, he wanted a foul to go with it.“I think he was definitely a little frustrated early,” forward B.J. Johnson said. “But as the game kept going on and we kept building on our lead, he just shook it off.”Christmas played his worst offensive game of the season on Wednesday at Conte Forum. He collected just seven points and 10 rebounds, committed five turnovers — including three travels — and missed on five of his eight shots.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe was double-teamed throughout Syracuse’s (16-8, 7-4 Atlantic Coast) 70-56 win over Boston College (9-14, 1-10) and was forced to help facilitate an offense that relied more primarily on players like Michael Gbinije, Kaleb Joseph and Johnson.Now the Orange prepares to face No. 4 Duke (21-3, 8-3), a team with a talented frontcourt and a tendency to be unpredictable with its defense.“This is the most anybody’s doubled him,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after beating BC. “He had a big game against them in Syracuse and I don’t think they did double him there. So they decided they were going to double him here today.”Christmas — who left the locker room after the game before taking any questions from the media — drew the attention of his opponents, but still tried to create offense when it wasn’t there.With 10:53 left, his turnaround jumper from the left of the basket sailed way over the rim and led to a transition layup for the Eagles. With 5:45 left to play, he tried a left-handed hook shoot that hit the side of the backboard.“I don’t know if he’s frustrated,” guard Trevor Cooney said. “He knows. He’s a senior. He knows basketball. And he knows that double teams are going to come.”On Wednesday those double teams left open lanes for Joseph to penetrate to the basket in ways he hasn’t in his freshman season. It let Johnson get 12 open shots up from behind the arc. It gave Gbinije a chance to take over the role as game-changer for a night.For Christmas, it wasn’t the 18 points per game that he’s proven to be capable of on a nightly basis. But he did his part in helping the next line of scorers to an SU win.The Blue Devils, who tip off with Syracuse on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Carrier Dome, feature a lineup that includes 6-foot-11, 270-pound phenom Jahlil Okafor — who isn’t known for his defense, but still poses a physical challenge to Christmas — and athletic 6-foot-9 forward Amile Jefferson.To knock off previously undefeated Virginia on Jan. 31, Duke’s defense played anything from man-to-man to 2-3 zone to 3-2 zone.The Blue Devils may very well throw a similar uncertainty the Orange’s way in how it tries to stop Christmas.“When you have a double team, it’s like you’re playing a four vs. three, and we made the extra pass and we were aggressive,” assistant coach Mike Hopkins said after SU’s win over the Eagles. “… There’s open lanes and open areas, and we found those tonight.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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