Joseph turns in strongest performance of year during Orange’s defeat of BC

first_imgCHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Kaleb Joseph pounded his chest with ferocity while Dimitri Batten clapped his hands in frustration.As Joseph ran down the court off a steal on the fast break, a three-on-two Syracuse advantage had turned into a one-on-one with Batten. After Joseph got the first step, all Batten could do was get a hand up as Joseph finished his two-handed dunk with a shout as he ran back up the court.The dunk came with 5:32 left in the second half — a time at which Joseph’s often been on the bench this season.“That’s something I was lacking in some of the other games, I wasn’t playing with an edge,” Joseph said. “That’s something I was trying to get back to doing, just playing with an edge.”In front of two busloads of family and friends from his hometown of Nashua, New Hampshire, Joseph found his edge Wednesday night. He finished the best game of his Syracuse career with 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field. He proved himself too important to take out down the stretch as Syracuse (16-8, 7-4, Atlantic Coast) pulled away in its 70-56 win over Boston College (9-14, 1-10) at Conte Forum.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU head coach Jim Boeheim said Joseph took advantage of a defense that didn’t focus on him, and played aggressively when BC gave him opportunities.“Kaleb is the one guy that people have been kind of leaving open,” Boeheim said. “And he’s been hanging on the perimeter, so when he got the ball back he still had to go through somebody. He cut, made better cuts.”His offense in the first half came and went with a floater off the dribble just four minutes into the game. But he started to look for his shot more after the break. After pulling down an offensive rebound in the second half, he looked up to kick the ball out to the perimeter. But when he noticed he was open 7 feet from the basket, he calmly hit the short jumper.Forty-six seconds later, he pounced off the dribble and hit a fadeaway 10-footer with Patrick Heckmann hounding him with a hand in his face.The freshman point guard scored six of SU’s first eight points of the second half, and kept the Orange clinging to a tenuous lead that it never gave up.“I think the biggest thing is he’s playing more confident,” assistant coach Mike Hopkins said. “He had a couple nice penetration kicks for Mike Gbinije for a couple 3s. He got in the lane and the way teams are defending us, they’re going to let him have plays. You’ve got to step up and knock down shots, and he did.”With Rakeem Christmas getting doubled at every given opportunity, Joseph was given the chance to make plays. When BC’s Dennis Clifford and Olivier Hanlan covered Christmas at the top of the key, Joseph drove in for an open dunk with eight minutes to play.It was a theme of his night. When he got the chance to score, he did. When he got the chance to pass, he did that, too. Boeheim said he thought Joseph should have had more than four assists, but that his teammates either missed shots or put the ball on the floor when they got it from him.The head coach praised a player that he’s often benched for the important parts of the game. On Wednesday, he was at the forefront of a second-half run. He was the focal point of the offense when others weren’t. And he stepped up in a game played just 40 minutes from his home.“Whenever I do what I’m supposed to do,” Joseph said, “there’s no reason for me to come out of the game.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 11, 2015 at 10:58 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3last_img