SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — At first glance, Tyler Roberson's points total was the number that stood out in Syracuse's 66-55 victory over Elon on Saturday night.

But his career-high of 20 points was built on 16 rebounds, seven on the offensive end — an area in which Syracuse has struggled this season.

"It all starts with rebounding," Roberson said. "I had a lot more opportunities tonight than I did last two games so I think I tried to take advantage of them. I think I was just active in going after rebounds and playing hard. When I do that, I think good things happen."

Michael Gbinije added 16 points for Syracuse while guard Malachi Richardson had 13.

Elon's Tanner Samson hit a 3-pointer with 2:13 left to pull within 61-55, but Richardson and Gbinije combined to make 5 of 6 free throws in the final two minutes to seal it.

Dainan Swoope paced the Phoenix (2-2) with 12 points. The Orange's 2-3 zone defense clamped down, holding Elon to just 21-of-66 shooting from the field (31.8 percent).

"We took some steps forward tonight," Elon coach Matt Matheny said. "We defended a little better than we had been. I think some of the keys down the stretch for their run was they got good looks. We missed a couple of defensive assignments but we had some costly, costly turnovers."

Syracuse's Trevor Cooney hit a jumper to tie the game at 39 and Roberson followed with a putback to give Syracuse the lead with 12:37 left.

"The opportunities are there for him," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said of Roberson. "He's just got to keep looking for them. We're getting penetration. His man is helping. He's got a clear route to the basket to get the rebound. That's his best way to be productive."

Richardson sank a foul shot and Gbinije followed with a layup and a free throw to give Syracuse a 47-39 lead with 11:04 remaining.

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TIP-INS

Elon: Saturday marked the first time Elon and Syracuse have played in men's basketball. . There are only three other current ACC members Elon has not faced: Pittsburgh, Boston College and Louisville. .

Syracuse: Cooney finished with eight points to leave him three shy of 1,000 for his Syracuse career.

UP NEXT

Elon hosts Mount St. Mary's on Thursday in the mainland division of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Syracuse faces Charlotte on Wednesday in the Bahamas portion of the Battle 4 Atlantis.