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This happened a lot in the Garden.
Easily the biggest test to date, Syracuse had barely been doing what was necessary to win. Offense is the big mystery as Syracuse has disappeared for large portions this season. And yes, they did a bit on the floor of Madison Square Garden. But in the end this was a huge win and Syracuse did it by bringing the ball inside. Sorry Sparty. That's four in a row for the Orange.
Syracuse took the lead with 15:25 left in the first half and never relinquished the lead. Syracuse amassed a 11 point lead in the first half and went on several scoring runs before closing the half up 38 to 29. Then the now infamous Syracuse scoring drought occurred early in the second half for about three minutes allowing Michigan State to close the gap between the teams by three points. But then Syracuse starting hitting shots, causing turnovers, and generally disrupting Michigan State which led to easy lay ups. Kaboom. Syracuse earns the biggest win of their season so far by beating #7/8 Michigan State 72-58.
Scoop Jardine was your leading scorer tonight with a far more reasonable and responsible 7-9 from the floor. He hit everything he shot from inside the arc, however most of them were lay ups. But his decision making was clearly good on the floor, and no goofy floaters or passes through four other players occurred. Scoop was clearly one of the best players on the floor.
Speaking of another great player on the floor, Rick Jackson was extraordinary. He finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. He was 8-15 from the floor in 37 minutes of work. When he is active on the boards and cuts on offense he is a massive problem for other teams. He continues to improve however he does need to get closer to the basket before attempting hooks. One more dribble would help.
Kris Joseph had another good scoring night with 14 points, but they mostly came from free throws, hitting 8-9. He was sadly 3-10 from the floor. Not another good night for the player most people thought would be the clear cut star of this year's team.
Brandon Triche was also not that outstanding on the offensive end. He managed nine points on 1-7 shooting, but was 7-8 from the line. However he continues to be the best defensive guard Syracuse has. He also led the team with four assists.
Dion Waiters, CJ Fair, and Baye Moussa Keita were the only players in off the bench in the game. They combined for 13 points. Keita saw the most minutes with 27, and his defense was outstanding for a freshman in the center position. He added three blocks, three rebounds, and three assists.
Syracuse did a far better night on offense this evening than they did against NC State. They shot 44.4% from the floor and cashed in on the free throws, hitting 75.9%. Conversely Michigan State only hit 38.9% from the floor and a dismal 56.3% from the free throw line. However State did shoot better from long range, hitting 7-24 (29.2%), while Syracuse only hit 2-11 (18.2%). Syracuse led in rebounding 31-26, and also were better in turnovers 16-11. That equals more possessions for Syracuse, and they took advantage in scoring. Additionally they scored around 20 points off turnovers, which is huge. Additionally, Syracuse owned the paint scoring 42 points to State's 24. That is huge disparity and shows just how manhandled State was in the post.
Syracuse played their best game by far all year. They looked like a team making extra passes, played unselfishly, and looked for outlets. Additionally this was the best the zone defense has looked all year. Syracuse truly earned a top ten victory. They rose to the occasion. Now they just need to keep playing that way.


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