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Syracuse - DePaul Preview

Syracuse students agree: We lose, we drink bleach.
DePaul is a team that I have had the fortune (read: misfortune) of actually seeing in person before we play them. In the SEC/Big East Invitational they played Mississippi State before the Syracuse v. Florida affair in Tampa. They looked awful then, when they still had Jerry Wainwright at the helm. They look awful now. Granted that is compared to other Big East schools (except maybe Rutgers), but even so they Play in the Big East and compared to Syracuse, Villanova, and other top Big East schools they are bad. Syracuse averages 83.5ppg and is the best shooting team in the country. It also leads the Big East in every statistical category. DePaul averages 59.7ppg and has the rare distinction of actually allowing more points then they score, with 65ppg. They have two good players in G Will Walker (16.1ppg) and F-C Mac Koshwal (14ppg, 10.5rpg). Walker also shoots 31.6% from behind the arc. This team will need an absolute miracle to even remotely keep up with Syracuse both inside the paint and in shooting. This has every indication that this will be a bloodbath. This one should truly be over by the under 4 of the first half, with a possible Syracuse lull in the middle of the second half, only to finish strong. Look for #4 Syracuse to roll on DePaul by 26.

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The Sour Sitrus Society: Steeped in a fine tradition of Hoya hate.

Editor's Note: I'm forgoing the Marquette Postgame Reactions because frankly it's not that noteworthy, it was another win, and this game is way more important.

It's just different. If you know, then you know. If you don't, well then you didn't go to Syracuse or Georgetown. You didn't grow up in the greater DC or CNY areas. You didn't live in Big East country. You clearly have no interest in college basketball whatsoever, and haven't since 1979. But if you have done any of those things, they you know. You know that the Carrier Dome is an amazing place when Georgetown comes to town. Last night was no different. Over 26,000 people entered the place that Carrier built and were on their feet for most of the games. And not just because of the first three minutes.

Georgetown jumped off to a big start, making the game 14-0 in the blink of an eye, mostly on shooting 4-4 from behind the arc. But then Syracuse slowly made their way back until the score was tied at 29 all. Syracuse then took the lead and never relinquished it. Adding to a five point halftime lead, Georgetown never sniffed the lead again as Syracuse went on a 37 to 29 run in the second half, resulting in a 17 point pounding of Georegetown. #4 Syracuse ends up the big winner on the home court over #7/11 Georgetown 73 to 56.
Your leading scorers were Andy Rautins and Kris Joseph, each adding 15 points. However both of them did it differently. Andy Rautins started but was only 2-8, 2-6 from the floor. He did make 9-10 from the free throw line, most of which were late in the game. He was extremely valuable to the team in getting six assists, six steals, and committing only one turnover in 30 minutes. His defense was extremely solid as well. Kris Joseph came off the bench and spurred the initial run of Syracuse's scoring, going 5-7 from the floor and 5-6 from the free throw line. He also had two rebounds, two assists, three steals, and one block in 33 minutes on the floor.
Not far behind was Wes Johnson who added 14 points of his own on 5-9, 1-2 shooting from the floor and hitting 3-3 from the free throw line. He was also one rebound short of another double-double with nine rebounds. He also had two assists, three steals, and four blocks. Sadly he had seven turnovers in the game however.

Scoop Jardine had a nice game off the bench again as well. He was 4-4 from the floor for nine points and had four assists. He contributed, along with Joseph, to combine for 24 Syracuse bench points. Georgetown meanwhile had zero bench points.

Syracuse's defense was simply magnificent in the last 36 minutes of the game. Syracuse caused 19 Georgetown turnovers which allowed Syracuse to close the gap and then take and keep the lead. Syracuse themselves had 15 turnovers. The key to Syracuse playing well is keeping turnovers limited to around 12 per game. While 15 is slightly higher, the other team had more and 15 is far less than the 20 they have had in previous games. Syracuse led in almost every statistical category in this game except for three point percentage and offensive rebounds. It was one of their best played games all season, and did not allow Georgetown to close the gap down the stretch like West Virginia and Marquette did.

The crowd in the Carrier Dome, 26,508, seemed bigger and louder than any other crowd all season, despite the fact that the Marquette crowd was bigger. Many fans stood for good portions of the game. However several fans, including Derrick Coleman and myself, were yelled at to sit down. Sorry folks, this is a college basketball game, and against your arch-rival no less. It is simply ridiculous that someone would ever be told to sit down at a game this big save for some elderly couple who just can't bounce up and down like most people. For any other reason, it is simply ridiculous.

Finally, there has been a lot of talk of court storming lately. I'd like to point the legislation that one Matt Glaude drafted in March of 2006 when he edited this notebook that outlines when a court rush is acceptable. While I myself am a little more liberal in deeming a court rush proper, this is a good starting point for debate and reasonableness. I have taken the liberty of forwarding this to my former employer, the Connecticut General Assembly, for consideration and approval.

Syracuse earned another top 15 win, as we remain perfect against ranked teams this season. Jim Boeheim has earned his 20th win of the season for the 32nd time in 34 seasons. Good enough for best all time. Syracuse next takes on DePaul this Saturday. With #1 losing earlier this week, one can only speculate where Syracuse will be next week, but it will certainly be higher. For now we relish another big win against Georgetown. A team that cannot win in the Carrier Dome, much like Connecticut can't win in Madison Square Garden.

Finally, in honor of the big win, The Glaude from Hoya Suxa celebrating once again:


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Georgetown - Syracuse Preview OR Destroya the Hoya!

These girls still know what's up.

Georgetown is in a much different place today than they were a few weeks ago. Much like fellow Big East foe Connecticut they are an improved team almost worthy of their high ranking. But the rankings never matter in these rivalry games. I've said this for several years and I firmly believe it. Be under no allusion that either team can rise to the occasion, or fall flat on their face. Once again Syracuse still averages more points however. Syracuse is averaging 84.1ppg and G'town only averages 72.9. Georgetown has lost three games, two in the league against Marquette and Villanova. However the first was against Old Dominion in their home gym. Syracuse has won six in a row, and the last versus Marquette was without any points from Andy Rautins, the Orange's second leading scorer. Syracuse is a team with multiple weapons, which gives them the slight edge. Georgetown only has two main weapons and a third that scores as much. Austin Freeman (15.6ppg), Greg Monroe (15.2ppg, 10.4rpg), and Chris Wright (15.1ppg) have been shooting well lately, including beating Pittsburgh at The Pete recently. Greg Monroe has been the standard stud for G'town all year and is the big man in the center handling all the duties in the low post. However, he only has averaged around 13ppg against Syracuse in his career. This game will hinge on low post play and the zone defense. We all know Georgetown will make some long range shots, but the law of averages will catch up to them on the road. Therefore stopping low post penetration and especially back door cuts by not falling asleep on the baseline on defense will be key. Continuing to score and score in transition will have to occur to put a big distance between Georgetown and Syracuse. Georgetown also just can't seem to win in the Carrier Dome, losing the last five trips there. Even when SU was unranked and G'town was we won. Syracuse will have a huge crowd on hand and should pull this one out, but it will be close for a good portion of the game again. Let's hope Andy Rautins can hit some dagger 3's and Arinze Onuaku doesn't disappear. Look for SU to continue the winning streak in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse over Georgetown by 11.

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Your Hoya Hating Primer

This is what a rivalry looks like Pat.
While my official preview will come out later today, we need to get you adequately prepared for tonight's affair. Coming off a weekend perhaps this game has lost a little prospective. THIS is Georgetown v. Syracuse. It is one of the two most important games on the schedule. The coaches of each team, John Thompson III and Jim Boeheim agree. In an Orange::44 exclusive, using my vast network of informants I have come into possession of some black and white security footage from a parking garage in Syracuse. Don't even ask me how I came to possess this tape. While this would normally be forgettable in every way, this video contains the two coaches I have mentioned earlier. The contents are shocking. The two coaches met only hours ago, and despite the disguises used, you can clearly tell who this video is. I apologise for the grainy images. Parental discretion is advised.


Riveting stuff people. Now if you missed it last year and need to know where you stand in the hierarchy of hating the Hoyas, try to become a certified Hoya Hater with the official certification test here. Also check out this past article from the The Hoya, Georgetown's student newspaper about the rivalry, with quotes from yours truly. It's got some good bits of history in case your knowledge is scant on the history of the affair.

Stay tuned here later today for my official preview of the game, and check out my old compatriot's blog Hoya Suxa for what will surely be some awesomely inflammatory business. We'll see you soon friends, but not if your mother is a Hoya.

It's 1:37... and GEORGETOWN STILL SUCKS!

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Marquette - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: It's good to be back and see them in person.
#5 Syracuse is back in the Carrier Dome after a successful three game road stand that resulted in three more wins, one of which against a top ten team. After some restful days and the start of a new semester, the students are ready to see their team in action again. And this team is hot and will have a good match up. Syracuse is the top shooting team in the country and Marquette is the best three point shooting team in the country. In case you live in a cave you know that Syracuse runs a 2-3 Zone defense, and that begs teams to shoot the long ball over it in lieu of trying to penetrate to the hoop. F Lazar Hayward (18.5ppg, 7.4rpg) is the star of the team and he is legitimate. He is a senior that is Big East tested and has been clutch in the past. He also shoots 32.2% from long range which helps as well. However Syracuse is outstanding on both ends of the court, and in transition. Coupling the fact that Syracuse outscores Marquette, and they juse lost to DePaul, Syracuse has to be the big time favorite right? I think so. Syracuse should win this one, I'll say by 19.

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Stopping By The Block

In stunning high definition.
Today I was invited to appear on Brent Axe's show On The Block on ESPN Radio 1260 in Syracuse to talk about the basketball team. But we also got into a bit of football and lacrosse as well. It' s 11 minutes worth of concentrated SU talk that you'll enjoy if you're a regular listener or reader of this blog. You can download the audio right here. My thanks to Axe for having me on.

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Calhoun Takes Leave

Look at this sonofabitch!

It is no secret. I have and probably will always hate Jim Calhoun. I think the guy is a jerk. Is he a great college basketball coach? Without question. He's definitely among one of the ten best coaching in the game today. But sadly he's a huge ass hole. Not only to reporters and occasionally his own players, but to anyone that doesn't agree with him. He is that old curmudgeon that would keep a ball if you accidentally kicked it over his fence, or yell at you for driving by his house at 35mph instead of 30.
All that being said, he helps make a significant portion of the great rivalry that is Syracuse v. Connecticut. Would UConn be the program that it is today without him? Probably not. And much like any rivalry, if one team is always great and one team always sucks, it just is not as fun as it used to be (see: Georgetown v. Syracuse). Therefore I was slightly sad to hear that Jim Calhoun is taking a leave of absence to focus on his health. We know that it isn't related to his previous health problems, and the current reports are stating that it is stress related, and will only last about ten days. That would have him missing three games and coming back in time for them to host Marquette on January 30th.
So it is good to know that Calhoun will probably be coming back. Everyone knows he isn't done coaching yet, nor should he be. Syracuse could use a few more years of beating UConn in the Big East Tournament. And really, if Jim Boeheim is gonna put some distance between himself and Calhoun, we want Calhoun to still be coaching when he does, and not sidelined for health reasons. Health is a lousy reason to have to leave your job. Besides, for Calhoun it would be must more satisfying if it were because of a DUI, NCAA violations, or he killed a sack of puppies. So we'll be seeing you around Jim. Feel better soon, ya sonofabitch.

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Road Woes? Not for Syracuse!

Yeah Jim, we all felt like that a few times this weekend.
Syracuse was embarking on a tough three game stretch on the road. They had already dispatched pitiful Rutgers at the RAC, but two much tougher opponents awaited. Syracuse had to face #9/10 West Virginia in Morgantown, and then turn around and face always daunting Notre Dame at home in the Joyce Center in South Bend. Both teams have very good coaches and very good players, so the big question was if Syracuse was up to the task, or would they crumble like so many good Big East teams do on the road? The Orange were up to it. They walk away with two more wins in the conference, both on the road, and against one top ten team. A very successful road stand.
January 16th @ West Virginia
Everyone knew this game was going to be a battle. Syracuse entered Morgantown with the best shooting in the Big East, but West Virginia could defend and shoot as well. One of the toughest places to play in the Big East is at Morgantown and this game was no exception. There were several lead changes, and Syracuse saw a double digit lead erode in the last few minutes as West Virginia hit three after three after three in the closing moments of the game to bring the Syracuse's lead within one point. Syracuse missed two free throws from Kris Joseph, but because he missed the second West Virginia couldn't set up a play and their game winning shot floated harmlessly to the ground. Syracuse escaped West Virginia with a huge (as huge as one point can be) win 72 to 71.
Syracuse was led in scoring by Brandon Triche on 6-8 shooting and 2-3 from behind the arc. He also had five assists in the game. That counteracted his five turnovers in the game, most of which were in the first few minutes. Despite the early turnovers he finally started playing like he's been on the team for half a season and controlled the ball well, including against the WVU press.
Rick Jackson led the team on the glass with 10 boards. Syracuse actually outrebounded a strong rebounding team in West Virginia. The Orange had 35 rebounds to WVU's 25. Jackson also finished with eight points.
Wes Johnson didn't do his usual scoring bit in this game as he was sick with a flu, however he still managed 13 points on 4-7 shooting and 5-7 free throws. That was also good enough to tie for second in scoring on the team. Kris Joseph also had 13 points on 4-6 shooting and 5-8 from the free throw line. Two of those are again the missed two at the end of the game.
Andy Rautins, coming off his best game of the year at Rutgers, had a hot and cold day, as he missed a couple of wide open looks, but hit some downright nasty shots later in the contest. He finished with 12 points shooting 5-12 from the floor. He also hit 2-7 from behind the arc and had seven key rebounds in the contest.
Syracuse shot the ball extremely well in this game. They shot 57.8% from the floor and a reasonable 33.3% from behind the arc. They also held WVU to just 39.3% shooting on the day. SU also held them to just 10-26 from long range, and had they not hit those big three at the end of the game, it would have been even better.
Syracuse would escape with the one point win against the top ten team, but on one days rest they had to turn around and play at Notre Dame. While traditionally Syracuse has beaten Notre Dame, they struggled last time they were at the Joyce, and Harangody is always dangerous to score a lot.
January 18th @ Notre Dame
Syracuse came out on fire thanks to Andy Rautins hitting RIDICULOUS threes from way back. Notre Dame hit some threes of their own as well. But it was all Orange after the score was 23 all. Notre Dame brought it within three after a pair of free throws on an intentional foul call against Andy Rautins for an inadvertent elbow in trying to clear the ball. But the Orange would soon come back as the inside game of Arinze Onuaku and Wes Johnson out powered the Notre Dame offense, despite Notre Dame's Luke Harangody picking up 31 points and 14 boards. Syracuse earns a 13 point win on the teams first three game road trip since the 2003-2004 season. Syracuse wins 84 to 71.
Your leading scorer for Syracuse was Johnson who had 22 points in this game. He also had eight rebounds. Johnson was able to score in transition and had several big dunks in this game. Notre Dame was barely able to contain him near the basket. He needs to improve his shot selection from inside the arc when shooting jumpers however. The eight rebounds lead the team as well.
Rautins was on fire like I said. He made 5-9 three point buckets and made 6-6 free throw attempts. He also earned four rebounds and two assists.
Onuaku had a nice 13 points in this game on 4-7 shooting from the floor. He miraculously also made 7-11 from the free throw line. I believe at least four of which were swishes in a row. Onuaku continues to be lazy and fall asleep on defense however, occasionally not aggressive enough in going to the hoop, and allows other players to swat the ball from his strong hands. He continues to underachieve for what we know his potential can be.
Syracuse shot 49.1% (26-53) on the day and 47.1% (8-17) from long range. That is far better than Notre Dame's 38.8% (26-67) and an abysmal 26.7% (8-30) from behind the arc. Notre Dame really shot themselves out of this game, which is what typically happens when a team is playing a really tough zone defense. Syracuse also led in steals, blocks, and rebounds. Both teams finished with 11 turnovers. A number that Syracuse should strive to stay around.
Syracuse swept the three games on the road, and now they return to the comfy confines of the Carrier Dome to take on Marquette this Saturday, a team that shoots the three better than any other team in the nation. It should be a good one. For now, #5 Syracuse is content knowing they put in the work and earned the reward of picking up three more wins.

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Syracuse - Notre Dame Preview

Syracuse students agree: Harangody looks a bit "touched" in pictures.
Syracuse is on one of those tough three game road stands in the toughest league in America. #5 Syracuse, after beating #9/10 West Virginia gets to rest a day and then play Notre Dame in South Bend on BIG MONDAY. This is what the Big East is all about. I, much like most people, said that going 2-1 on this road trip, with an obvious win at Rutgers, would be good enough for this team. Now it is time to get greedy. Syracuse could win this game and solidify them as still the team to beat in the league. C Luke Harangody is obviously the best player on this Irish team. He is averaging just under 25ppg and 9.6rpg. He dropped 25 on Syracuse last year in the Carrier Dome in a loss to the Orange. It will be up to Arinze Onuaku to guard him, and Harangody has added better shooting to his game. Onuaku has been lazy on defense the past few games and has not played outstandingly so look for him to have a short leash and Jackson to come in to try to defend against the big man. Syracuse is the best shooting team in the nation, hitting 53.4% from the floor. Conversely, Notre Dame has one of the worst defenses, allowing opponents to shoot 43.3%. However, much like every Notre Dame team, they have some pretty good shooters, and Notre Dame has averaged 45% against Syracuse from three in the last five games. That is what has doomed Syracuse in the past. While most teams shoot themselves right out of a game in the second half, Notre Dame has consistently kept making threes against the SU zone. This zone is a little better than Notre Dame has faced however, and with Triche and Rautins playing so well as of late, this should be a shoot out in South Bend, with the difference being rebounding and the ability to limit Harangody and good looks from long range. The referees and how tight they call the game will be a huge factor as well, as both teams are aggressive in the paint. Syracuse needs to limit turnovers and play a solid game, getting not only the guards involved, but Johnson again as well, who has mostly recovered from his flu like symptoms. While Syracuse has not played outstandingly in the Joyce Center as of late, I do see this tough and talented Syracuse team pulling off another win despite Notre Dame coming off a loss. Syracuse over Notre Dame by 13.

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Syracuse - West Virginia Preview

Syracuse students agree: No couches should be burned. Ever.
I'm going to sound pretty unprofessional right now, but honestly no one has any idea how this one is going to turn out. My good friend who is a WVU alum and hosts a sports talk radio program has no idea how this one will turn out. I bet Jim Boeheim doesn't either. Syracuse has beaten West Virginia the last ten of 11 times, including twice last season. The second was in overtime during the Big East Tournament after the 6-OT game against UConn. However the Mountaineers are undefeated at home. They also play a stingy defense and when holding opponents to under 50% shooting from the floor they are 11-0. WVU has a quality pair of players in both SF Devin Ebanks (12.5ppg, 8.33rpg) and SG De'Sean Butler (15.9ppg, 6.4rpg). Additionally PF Kevin Jones (15.3ppg, 7.8rpg) is surprisingly effective in the post. The key to this game will be defense and rebounding. Of course scoring is imperative and if Syracuse can get a good start in the first half and get a lead at the half before WVU's defense really rolls in the second half their chances of winning will be great. But really you have to rebound and cause turnovers to find success. Syracuse's ten point scoring edge on the season is erased on the road, so grinding out a tough game by finding ways to score and being stingy in the zone is the only way to pull this major road test off. I do think Syracuse will win this game, but by a slim margin. Look for SU to win this game over WVU by seven.

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Troy Nunes is an Absolute Podcast 4.0

After a couple weeks off your favorite SU related podcast is back.
It's true. Sean of Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician and I are back to talk all things Syracuse. Today we discuss the Rutgers win, the fact no one likes DOC Gross, the merits of USF's hire, why Ithaca, NY sucks, why we can't have nice things, and plenty of other interesting tid bits. It's 44 minutes of quality banter that is worth your time as an SU fan. Download it and put it on your iPod if you're so inclined. You know you want to. You can do that here, along with downloading any of our past episodes. Or just listen below. Your choice.

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Back to Business: Three More Wins

Rutgers: The cure for poor shooting.

The last week and a half as brought three more wins for Syracuse Basketball. Syracuse had one more non-conference tilt before embarking back on the Big East train. Syracuse handled their business, although it took a good half to truly recover from the Pittsburgh loss, however Syracuse bounced back and finished with three more wins, two of which were in the Big East.

January 6th v. Memphis

Memphis got off to a good start and Syracuse trailed a bit in the first half. However good shooting from Andy Rautins to end the half earned the momentum to tie the game going into the half and Syracuse came out much better in the second half. They were able to put Memphis away with about five minutes to go. The Orange went on to beat Memphis 74 to 57.

Syracuse's leading scorer was again Wes Johnson with 19 points. That was a game high for scoring. He also finished with seven rebounds and three assists. Additionally he went 6-6 from the free throw line. Easily the best player on the day sadly he gave up the ball five times, which certainly hindered Syracuse from putting away Memphis far earlier in the game. He tied for the most on the team.

Kris Joseph had another phenomenal day off the bench, earning 15 points and leading the team with nine rebounds. He did all this in 25 minutes of work. Additionally he also did well from the charity stripe, hitting 7-8. In a game in which ball handling is not at as much of a premium, Joseph is clearly the most valuable player off the bench.

While Syracuse had some pretty gruesome scoring droughts, they actually finished shooting 54.5% on the day. Additionally, from behind they arc they shot 50%, hitting 7-14. Memphis shot 40% and 32.1% respectively.

Syracuse sadly had 17 turnovers in this game compared to the 13 Memphis committed. Syracuse won by 17, and with 17 more possessions I can't imagine how over this would have been, and early. Syracuse was committing turnovers, especially from Johnson and Triche that they had not been making in any of the previous games. They also didn't let their offense come to them, but rather tried to force a lot in transition, which did not help.

However, due to the win, Syracuse finished their non-conference slate perfectly. They then resumed the Big East conference, hoping to put a better foot forward than they did in the Pittsburgh game. They got to against South Florida, a team that has only won two Big East games in the entire time they have been part of the conference.

January 10 v. South Florida
South Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but that was their biggest and only lead of the game. After that Syracuse continually built their lead, working both the inside post and their outside shooting. Syracuse spread the ball around the floor and assisted on 19 of 32 field goals. Additionally they took better care of the ball. Syracuse finished the first half ahead 40 to 28 and won the game over South Florida 82 to 65.
Johnson again led the Orange in scoring with another 19 points. He also earned a double-double by pulling down 13 rebounds. He took better care of the ball, only committing three turnovers this time. He again was perfect on free throws, making 6-6 as well.
Four of the five starters were in double digits for scoring with Johnson having 19, Rick Jackson with 15, Arinze Onuaku with 12, and Brandon Triche with ten. Andy Rautins had eight points as well. Rautins led the team with seven assists as well.
Syracuse finished with 50.8% (32-63) shooting on the day but only 29.4% (5-17) from long range. Obviously USF finished worse, shooting 40% (22-55) and 16.7% (3-18) respectively. USF however out rebounded Syracuse, pulling down 37 to 34. Syracuse did take better care of the ball though, only committing 11 turnovers to USF's 13.
Syracuse, after the USF game, was 2-1 in the Big East, however they then began a three game road stand starting with a notoriously tough trip to the RAC with Rutgers. Being at Rutgers is currently in deterioration this was an important win for Syracuse to get to not only start off the road trip right, but not sully their resume with a bad loss.
January 13th @ Rutgers
Syracuse had won the last nine games versus Rutgers. With Fred Hill being very publicly scrutinized by past and present players alike, this was a must win game for Syracuse. They cruised in the first half to a 41-23 lead. Andy Rautins was shooting lights out and Syracuse earned a big lead at the half without having to posterize a player from Rutgers this time. However Syracuse caught some momentum in the second half off Mike Rosario and closed the game to single digits. However, with about five minutes to go this game was over. Syracuse's transition game was far to much for Rutgers to keep up with as Syracuse goes on to win their second Big East road game 81 to 65.
Andy Rautins led the team with 23 points on 7-14 shooting from the floor and 4-10 from behind the arc. He also hit 5-6 free throw baskets. He looked really good on the floor and this is the first game in a while that he has looked really comfortable shooting the ball.
Mookie Jones found a lot of time on the floor and made good use of it in this game. In 22 minutes of play he hit 3-6 from three point range and finished with 11 points. He also pulled down four rebounds and had two steals.
Additionally, with Triche playing poorly as of late, not handling the ball well and committing turnovers, Scoop Jardine came in, handled the ball well , and was able to score. He finished with 12 points and six assists. He also hit 6-9 from the free throw line.
Syracuse shot better from long range this game making 9-22 (40.9%). Rutgers hit 11 which kept them in part of this game, but Syracuse shot better overall with 47.5% (28-59) success from the floor. Rutgers shot 38.5% (25-65).
Syracuse had 21 assists in the game on the 28 field goals SU made. Rutgers had 14 assists on 25 field goals. Syracuse was a bit sloppy in this game however, committing 18 turnovers. They still beat Rutgers however, who had 21. Syracuse out rebounded Rutgers as well, earning 35 whereas Rutgers had 31. Truly interesting statistic of the evening however is SU attempting 22 free throws, while Rutgers only shot five.
Syracuse is now 16-1 (3-1) and currently ranked #5 once again. However Syracuse now faces two tough road games with West Virginia this Saturday and Notre Dame on Monday. Both places are tough to play. Although recent history is that we beat both teams last season these games will not be easy. Syracuse will have some truly tough tests coming up in the Big East. Really though, would you want it any other way?

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Syracuse - Rutgers Preview

Syracuse students agree: Rutgers isn't looking so hot these days.
Man, Rutgers Basketball has got some problems. One of their best players, and their second leading scorer has been out for the year with a detached retina. Oh yeah, and he just decided to transfer too. Greg Echenique, a pretty good center, will no longer play for Rutgers. Couple this with former players wishing the demise of Fred Hill and you have a sticky situation for the head coach of the Rutgers men's basketball program. Let's face it, Rutgers really hasn't been a threat to the top teams of the league since losing future NBA player Quincy Douby. He was a decent orange juicer if there ever was one, and some of those games in the RAC with Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara, and yes even Carmelo Anthony, ended in a loss. Those days seem like forever ago with the slow but steady decline of this once decent Big East program. That is the backdrop for which the #5 Syracuse Orange travel to New Jersey to take on this fading program. Syracuse enters the game coming out of what was their worst stretch of games all season, playing poorly against Pittsburgh, as well as Memphis. They finally snapped out of it against USF on Sunday, but that is a team that is 0-3 in the conference. Good news for Syracuse is that Rutgers is also 0-3 in the conference, already losing to Cincinnati, #9 West Virginia, and Providence. Rutgers plays some decent defense, only allowing opponents to score 67.4ppg, only about three more per game than Syracuse. Rutgers' problem is offense however, as they only score 67.9ppg, as supposed to the 85.5ppg that Syracuse drops. Rutgers PG Mike Rosario is the one legitimate talent on the team who averages 16.1ppg and shoots 33.7% from outside the arc. He is a good player and Rutgers will have to put the ball in his hands a lot if they want to have a chance in this one. Their next leading scorer is PF Jonathan Mitchell who transferred from Florida to Rutgers (Editor's Note: Why?!?) and is averaging 10.5ppg and 4.9rpg who is a good player and will look to challenge Rick Jackson and Arinze Onuaku down low. The weakness in Syracuse lately has been committing dumb turnovers they haven't in weeks past (especially Brandon Triche and Andy Rautins) and not covering three point shooters as well as they have been. This will need to change. Although Rutgers is no North Carolina, they will have to step up and guard Rosario and force shooters that are not as comfortable to take those long shots. It will be difficult for Rutgers to penetrate the zone defense, so they will be taking a lot of outside shots. Making sure some random player does not have a career night falls on everyone, but mostly the two up front in the zone. If they can keep composure, no matter what guard combination is in front, then Syracuse will have a very good chance in blowing Rutgers out at home. Andy Rautins having a nice day will not hurt either. Wes Johnson will be Wes and probably score at least 19 points as he has the past two games, but the key in this game will be taking care of the ball and taking care of the glass. The Syracuse defense will do what it has been known to do for most of the season. Rutgers is too untalented to stretch the defense of Syracuse the way Pittsburgh, and even Memphis, did. Syracuse will roll in the RAC in front of what I assume will be a 95% orange covered crowd by 22, completing the Rutgers sweep for the year.

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BlogPoll 2009 - Final Ballot

RankTeamDelta
1Alabama
2Texas
3Florida 2
4Boise State 2
5Ohio State 2
6Iowa 12
7Penn State 2
8Virginia Tech 3
9TCU 5
10Oregon 2
11Brigham Young 1
12Cincinnati 9
13Nebraska 9
14Pittsburgh 3
15Wisconsin
16Oregon State 3
17West Virginia 3
18Miami (Florida) 4
19Georgia Tech 9
20Stanford 1
21LSU 6
22Utah 1
23Central Michigan 2
24Florida State
25Air Force
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Northwestern (#13), Oklahoma State (#16), Houston (#24).
* This is my final BlogPoll ballot of the 2009 Season. It's been fun having you call me an idiot week in and week out. I look forward to it next season.
* Northwestern, Okey State, and Houston all drop out with losses. New to the poll is Wisconsin, Florida State, and Air Force. Air Force impressed me in their bowl and I'll give some love to the armed forces. FSU beat a good West Virginia team and sent off their ball coach right. They get back on the poll for the game and a best wishes to Coach Bowden.
* Your far and away Natty Champion is Alabama. Despite hating the BCS, they were the best team this year. Now if only Boise State and 'Bama could play. Roll Tide.
* Despite Texas losing the big game they are still better than Florida, so they stay #2.
* Basically if you won you moved up, and the BCS game winners usually ended up at the top. The losers fell.
Think I'm a fool and leave a comment. Otherwise thanks for another fun football season and we'll see you next year. Maybe Syracuse will make an appearance for real next year.

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South Florida - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: USF can't handle the team or the cold.
Syracuse recovered from a shoddy first half against Memphis and had a pretty decent shooting day to close the game out. It was a far better half than the previous three going back to the Pittsburgh game. Under the assumption that Syracuse has found it's shot again, and similarly assuming that they can now make layups again, # 7 Syracuse will take on South Florida at home. USF had some nice early wins in beating Davidson and Virginia, but have lost to the likes of Central Michigan and South Carolina. They are currently 0-2 in the conference, losing to Louisville and at home to Notre Dame by a point. They have a nice inside/outside duo in forward/center Augustus Gilchrist (18.8ppg, 7.4rpg) and guard Dominique Jones (18.1ppg, 5.4rpg, 4.6apg). Gilchrist can definitely play and has given Syracuse fits before, especially in the Sun Dome. The problem for South Florida is this game is being played in a dome much further north. Also, they only average 68.1ppg, while Syracuse, despite not trouncing teams like they did in the non-conference, is still averaging 85.7. Arinze Onuaku and more likely Rick Jackson will be better on defense as USF should not be able to work the zone as well as Pittsburgh, or even Memphis. Additionally SU's shooting should be fine and with Kris Joseph coming in off the bench contributing, Syracuse should be sitting pretty on a Sunday afternoon. Syracuse over USF by 16.
As always, look for my recap of this game combined with the Memphis win coming either late Sunday or on Monday. Also stay tuned during the game for hilarious quips and scoring updates from myself and Correspondent John Brennan on Twitter (@BH_Orange44 and @JBren).

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Memphis - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're still on break. Wooo.

Memphis is a different team than the elite team Syracuse beat in Tennessee last year. Sadly their less than upstanding coach bolted to Kentucky for more money and several top talent that already signed letters of intent to play at Memphis. Oh yeah, he also got another Final Four vacated for rules infractions. Needless to say, you can tell I dislike Coach Calipari. But my point is that Memphis is not that great anymore. While picked to again win the C-USA league again, Syracuse is coming off a reality check loss at home. While it seemed every shooter on Syracuse couldn't hit the ocean from a boat on Saturday, that should not be the case tonight. Syracuse is still averaging 86.6ppg which is pretty good. However Memphis is decent too. They play a smaller lineup and are successful as their top five scorers are guards. This could bode well for them as the 2-3 Zone defense did not look sharp on Saturday. Memphis could find success in quick passes, good ball handling, and shooting over the top. That being said, again Syracuse is coming off their only loss of the season which means they are looking to bounce back and finish their last non-conference game with a win, remaining perfect in that arena. Syracuse will make a better effort to get the ball inside for better looks and use better shot selection. The simple fact is if Syracuse can find their shot from behind the arc again they should win. If not it could be another bitter night in Syracuse and not just because of the cold. I do think SU will bounce back here though. Syracuse over Memphis by 14.

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The SU Week That Was

What game are you watching stripes?

The Big East Conference started for Syracuse both away from the Carrier Dome (and sadly into New Jersey) and at home. Syracuse was able to win another Big East opener, but failed to defend their home court. I, along with Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan even managed to squeeze in some overtime women's basketball as well. To the recaps.

12/29 @ Seton Hall

This was a game that was only won through the toughness of Syracuse. While the Orange led for the first ten minutes, Seton Hall took advantage of poor shooting and poor passing from Syracuse and earned a double digit lead. Some solid defense and good post play helped SU to tie it heading into the half though. Syracuse then fell behind for the first part of the second half, but came back through good shooting from Kris Joseph and Wes Johnson Syracuse manages to pull out this game and hold off Seton Hall for the last eight or so minutes. The end up winning over the Hall 80 to 73.

Johnson led Syracuse in scoring with 20 points on 8-16 shooting from the floor and 1-3 from downtown. He played well however he took a few questionable shots in this game that were clearly low percentage shots that dragged Syracuse down in the first half. However, what helped the most was the 19 rebounds he had that spurred us taking the lead in the second half and keep it. He also had five blocks. Overall he had a nice game.

The real hero of this game was Kris Joseph who had 16 points in this game. When no one else was hitting shots he was. He shot well, hitting 4-5 field goals and also making 8-9 free throws in the game. For a bench player, he played an ideal game.

The reason that Seton Hall was able to keep Syracuse down in this game was the 20 turnovers that the Orange committed. The Hall only committed 13. Similarly, Syracuse was outrebounded for most of the first half and part of the second. SU finished with 44, while Seton Hall had 43. Syracuse was sadly outhustled for a big portion of this game and luckily toughed it out with good shooting down the stretch to keep a decent Seton Hall team from regaining the lead late in the game.

Syracuse escaped New Jersey but would not remain undefeated for long.

1/2 v. Pittsburgh
Syracuse entered this game thinking that Pittsburgh was down and this would be an easy home win. That should have been the case had Syracuse actually shown up. Syracuse took themselves out of this game in the second half missing easy bucket after easy bucket and allowing Pittsburgh to easily penetrate the zone and get good looks close to the hoop. Sadly Syracuse had a shot to get back into it, but the referees made sure they couldn't. Syracuse lost at home 82 to 72.

Wes Johnson again led the scoring for the Orange with 19 points. He also had six rebounds and two steals. Once again when others were missing shots he consistently had the best play around the hoop. While he missed six shots from mid range and around the basket and one from behind the arc again he did play well most of the game and helped mount the attempted comeback.

Kris Joseph again had a great game off the bench with ten points and nine rebounds. In the last two games he has become the best player off the bench. Even better than Scoop. He did have 15 points off the bench as well, however he had two big turnovers in this game because of when they happened and was 6-13 from the floor.

Speaking of turnovers they honestly were not the issue in this game. Syracuse did have 14, but compared to the 20 they had in Jersey that isn't that bad. Pittsburgh even had 18 in this game, especially due to the mostly effective pressure defense SU used in the game. No, what really happened in this game was Syracuse's poor shooting from long range (1-13) and poor shooting overall. Well that and the next issue.

The referees in this game were atrocious. Karl Hess, Michael Stephens, and Bob Donato were the stripes for this affair. Bob Donato is a veteran official who you may remember from the 6 OT game in MSG. He was fair in this game and did a nice job overall. Michael Stephens was a little less unbiased in this game, as he called some questionable fouls on Syracuse, as well as some pretty blatant no-calls such as a backcourt violation. But the absolute worst was Karl Hess. It was absolutely the most biased game called I have ever seen in all of my college basketball viewing. We're talking hundreds of games. And as a former referee I am critical of terrible officiating, and this was easily the worst called game I have seen ever. Jimmy Burr had a couple terrible ones in the Florida game that were just wrong, but even he was not even close to being this terrible as Hess in this game. At least they weren't biased, just wrong. This game was full of clear bias to the point of sickening frustration. You hate to blame the referees, but literally any person that saw this game, SU fan or otherwise, could easily see that this game was horribly called. I thought you were supposed to protect the better team? I guess you have to be Duke for that kind of thing. Just the worst.

So with that SU's undefeated season comes to an end. Sadly it was not the only team's undefeated streak ending.

SU Orangewomen v. Georgetown
Yes, I still call them the Orangewomen. They were undefeated heading into their Big East slate. In case you don't know, but seeing as you are probably one of the regular readers perusing this article you probably do, Syracuse playing Georgetown in anything is big. Ant this game had a BET feel I have to say. This was my first time seeing the ladies in action and they played well. Syracuse trailed since the game was 5-4, but made a great comeback to attempt to tie the game in regulation. The big excitement came with less than two seconds left when Syracuse was fouled shooting a three. SU hit all three baskets to send the game to overtime. However, Syracuse just couldn't pull anything out with one final possession and 11 seconds to go. After a big upset win in past years, Georgetown comes away with the win over the ranked team, ending both team's undefeated streaks.

Juanita Ward was the leading starter with 17 points in the game, but clearly the best player in the game was freshman center Kayla Alexander who also had 17 points off the bench. She was 7-11 from the floor around the basket and was outstanding in the post. She also had two blocks on G'town. She to me was the best player in the game. Zero of the game was Tasha Harris who was the starting point guard and finished with 0 points and did nothing on SU's final possession but hold the ball while the time ticked down.

While the game was a nice game to see and was easily more exciting than the men's game earlier, the best part was seeing Coach Q's interactions with the referees. He was giving them an earfull, as some calls were certainly suspect in terms of charges or blocks. He was out there giving them the business one minute, and schmoozing them the next. It was easily one of the most entertaining parts of the game. And the guy can coach, which is good to see as well.

Club Four-Four
I had a chance to check out the now open Club Four-Four. Eh, it's OK. Nothing too special. Maybe it will be different when it's full and there is a game going on. Check out the photos here.

We'll be back with coverage of SU's last non-conference game of the semester when the fellas take on a reeling Memphis club in the Carrier Dome. I do feel bad for Memphis. They hire a guy who gets their Final Four vacated (another for him), then he leaves with recruits for more money and a bigger job at Kentucky. Just doesn't seem fair for Memphis. Either way we're playing them and we'll be there. Until you hear from me again enjoy some "quality" Bowl Games and stay tuned for the next Troy Nunes is an Absolute Podcast coming later this week.

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