NEW YORK — Bol Bol and the Oregon Ducks won't leave the Big Apple with a championship, but they are departing with a win.
On his 19th birthday, Bol went for a career-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting with nine rebounds and two blocks as the No. 13 Ducks beat No. 15 Syracuse, 80-65, in the consolation game of the 2K Empire Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project at Madison Square Garden.
"I think it was really important (to get the win) because of what happened (Thursday) night," Bol said, referring to Thursday's loss to Iowa. "We didn't play too good. After the game we were just focusing on the next game, and playing really hard."
With some 60 NBA scouts credentialed for the event, the freshman had his career performance one day after he battled right calf trouble in the loss to Iowa. Bol was able to penetrate the zone and score in the paint on a variety of short jumpers, layups and dunks. He also flashed his range for the scouts by draining a three-pointer in the second half.
"He's a unique talent and he's going to grow into a special player," Ducks coach Dana Altman said. "You saw him shoot the three. You saw him handle it. He made some nice passes. He's got to get stronger ... He's gotta be lower and be a better athlete. When he's straight up and down everybody pushes him around.
"He's been working with us and he wants to be a good player. (He's) 7-2 to do the things that he can do. You saw the jump hooks. He's got a very soft touch for being 7-2."
Payton Pritchard rebounded from a poor outing against the Hawkeyes to put up 18 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists. He was 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. Kenny Wooten added 12 points and six rebounds, including a monster second-half dunk over Marek Dolezaj.
"(Thursday) night was kind of a wake-up call that we can't just walk through things," Pritchard said. "Even though we're so talented you gotta have the intensity. So maybe we can look at it as a good thing."
Tyus Battle led Syracuse (2-2) with 17 points, and Elijah Hughes and Jalen Carey scored 14 apiece.
Oregon (3-1) seized a 35-22 halftime lead thanks to a strong performance from Bol, who went for 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds. Pritchard exceeded his point total from Thursday's loss by adding nine points and three rebounds before the break. Oregon closed the first half on a 12-0 run that included six points apiece from Bol and Pritchard. Oregon outrebounded Syracuse 20-13 in the first half.
"The way they turned it around, for a young team and a team that hasn't been together," Altman said, "I was pleased with that."
The Ducks led by as many as 15 in the second half before Syracuse used a 7-0 run to close within 49-41. But Bol scored on a conventional three-point play in the post, Pritchard added two free throws and Bol hit a floater in the lane to push the lead back to 56-41. Bol's three-pointer pushed the lead to 62-46.
Bol said he's adjusting to the college game.
"It's been pretty hard because the college game is a lot more physical and faster," Bol said. "But my coaches and my teammates have been helping me figure it out."
Said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: "He's good and he's a big problem out there. We're not physical. You gotta be more physical with him and we're not."
The Ducks return home and face Green Bay on Tuesday and then Texas Southern on Nov. 26. Freshman Louis King (knee) is expected back for the Dec. 1 game at Houston.
"Hey Louis King," one fan yelled in the closing moments. "We need you."