SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim paid freshman point guard Tyler Ennis the ultimate compliment with only six words.
"I don't even think about him," Boeheim said Friday night after No. 8 Syracuse's 79-41 exhibition victory over Division II Holy Family.
Ennis, replacing NBA lottery pick Michael Carter-Williams, started with Trevor Cooney in the backcourt and finished with 12 points and three assists. C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, and Dajuan Coleman started up front for the Orange as the frontcourt from last year's Final Four team remained intact.
Syracuse scored the first 10 points and steadily pulled away as Holy Family missed its first five shots and struggled to find any open space. Ennis, one of four freshmen for the Orange, was 3 for 3 from the floor and had a team-high 10 points in the opening half as the Orange limited Holy Family to 6 of 30 shooting, 1 of 16 on 3-pointers, and led 38-13 at the break.
"I felt great out there," Ennis said. "We have a lot of veterans on this year's team. They've gotten me comfortable and helped me learn the ropes of the offense."
Fair and Jerami Grant each had 13 points to pace the Orange and freshman Ron Patterson had 11.
Isaiah Gans led Holy Family with 10 points.
Despite the lopsided win, Syracuse played in fits and spurts, committed 18 turnovers, and the smaller Tigers even managed five blocks.
"I think as a team we can take a lot from this game," said Fair, who also had nine rebounds and five assists with four turnovers. "It's definitely a learning game. We had some ups and downs and lack of effort, stuff like that. We got it going a little bit the first half, a little bit the second half. But we need to learn to keep our rhythm throughout the game."
Patterson was 4 of 7 overall and 3 of 5 from behind the arc, but freshmen Tyler Roberson (2 of 7) and B.J. Johnson (1 of 6) didn't fare so well. And Michael Gbinije, who sat out last season after transferring from Duke, was 1 of 6 from the field and missed all four long-range shots he attempted.
"We learned a lot of things, good and bad," Boeheim said. "We did a lot of good things, and then we did some things, first time out, you have to do better. We've still got a lot of work to do. It was a learning experience."
Much of Cooney's importance to the team stems from his long-range arsenal, and Ennis helped get him going early. Cooney hit a pair of 3s in the first 2:07 of play to stake the Orange to an early lead.
"I don't know if it was real important for me to get off to a good start, but it felt good," said Cooney, who was 3 of 4 from behind the arc. "I'm the only backcourt guy coming back who played minutes last year, so I know I have a much bigger role this year. It's not pressure. It's just a bigger opportunity that I have to take advantage of."
Syracuse plays its second and final exhibition game Tuesday night against Ryerson and opens the regular season at home against Cornell next Friday night.