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Johnny Cal had front row seats to the destruction.
Syracuse earned a revenge victory on Monday at Villanova. The only thing left on the revenge checklist was heading down to DC and getting one back from the hated Hoyas of Georgetown. Well Syracuse did just that. They earned a 58 to 51 win in the Verizon Center.
Scoop Jardine has had some questionable games this season, but he played outstanding at Villanova and started the game in DC with a huge three to start the Syracuse scoring. Syracuse was in a major offensive rhythm in the first half, heading into halftime with a 33 to 23 lead. But Syracuse came out flat in the second half, as Georgetown was able to grab rebounds and put points on the board. Eventually Georgetown took a 45 to 43 lead with ten minutes to go. But then Georgetown went 1-12 in the final ten minutes of the game, including a couple turnovers from Nate Lubick, who I'm convinced shouldn't have a scholarship after watching this game. Georgetown missed from the outside and layups. Syracuse, despite not controlling rebounding as well, earned points on a few circus shots, made Triche free throws, and a little bit of luck. Syracuse finished with a victory to avenger their earlier loss.
  • Jardine was again Syracuse's leading scorer with 17 points on 7-16, 3-9 shooting. He also added seven assists, four rebounds, and only had one turnover. He could have iced the game by making the front end of a 1-and-1, but he nailed an absolute dagger three late in the game and hit a ridiculous circus shot to keep Syracuse scoring. He was clearly the best player on the floor for Syracuse late in the game.
  • Rick Jackson added 12 points going 5-7 on the day, along with seven rebounds. While he was not as successful on the boards, he had an excellent offensive day when he was given the ball.
  • Brandon Triche continued his poor shooting, only going 1-7 from the field, but he finished with nine points hitting 6-6 from the free throw line, as well as getting absolutely mugged on several possessions with no fouls called. He should have gotten more points on those free throws.
  • Kris Joseph had another bad game. He only earned four points on 2-7 shooting and 0-2 shooting from behind the arc. He did have three steals, but his offense has been lackluster this season in the Big East, and he has not gotten any better as the season has progressed.
  • Baye Moussa Keita seemed non-existent on the floor in this game and his statistics prove it. Zero points and one rebounds.
  • The return of Southie! James Southerland reappeared and went 4-8 from the floor, earning nine points in 21 minutes. He added three rebounds and two steals as well. A great day for him.
  • Dion Waiters also bounced back, getting give points on 2-4, 1-3 shooting. He also earned two rebounds and two assists.
  • CJ Fair was also non-existent on the floor, missing all two of his attempts from the floor. Just not the young freshman's day.
  • Fab Melo actually saw seven minutes of action and earned two points. The dude just can't catch the ball while running though. He needs to get with it in the off season.
  • G'town shot 45.3% from the floor in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse, but Syracuse limited Georgetown to 36% from the floor in this game, only making 18 field goals.
  • Syracuse shot 40.7% from the floor and 30% from behind the arc. That's better than G'towns 36 and 28% respectively. However Syracuse shot only 61.5% from the free throw line and 66.7% for Georgetown.
  • Bill Clinton, Syracuse's 2003 Commencement Speaker and G'town graduate was in attendance. Along with the Geico Caveman.
  • Yeah, I got in. Along with tons of other Syracuse fans, who were the majority of fans in the upper tier 400s. Also some empty seats. Not quite the sell out Georgetown stated. "Let's Go Orange!" rang out in the closing moments.
  • The boo birds were out in full force in line waiting to get in as I paraded past them from the Metro heading to Clyde's. Occasionally some threw stuff at us. Way to keep it classy G'town students. Similarly waiting for a Metro train in leaving a girl in a Georgetown shirt said to her friend "let's just punch everyone in orange ahead of us." Great stuff.
  • Thanks to everyone we met this past weekend, especially all the orange Twitterati in attendance. A lot of fun with you all.
  • Kudos to this guy in the Georgetown student section rocking orange. You were doing God's work.

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Syracuse - Georgetown Preview

Syracuse students agree: The revenge tour pulls into DC Saturday.
The Orange make the trip down to DC to take on a Georgetown team in a different position than they were earlier this season. Different too are the gentlemen from Syracuse. For the evil Hoya collective, Chris Wright, the Hoyas' leading scorer with 13.1ppg and a three point percentage of 35, is out with a broken left hand. While he may return before the end of the season, he will not be on the floor on Saturday. And Syracuse is playing much better, after an upset win at Villanova on Monday to avenge an earlier loss in the season. As an aside, of the three teams Syracuse plays twice this season, the road team has always won. The Big East be crazy. Anyway, Syracuse's offense and defense is much better than when they were at the point of the season they played Georgetown. The scoring has been more consistent, and the zone has been far more active and have covered shooters better behind the arc. Georgetown is also coming off a stunning loss to Cincinnati in DC. What? Austin Freeman is still the leading scorer for G'town with 17.8ppg and hitting 40.6% from behind the arc. But other than Freeman, with Wright out they only have one more double-digit scorer. Georgetown is reeling from Wright being out, either in reality or in their minds. And honestly, save for about four minutes of just terrible offense and defense at the end of the game in the Carrier Dome, Syracuse could have won that one. I like Syracuse to take the game this time, especially if Triche steps up and scores from behind the arc again. Scoop needs to keep playing like he's still in Philadelphia too. But really, this team is playing smart, patient offense which is the biggest difference in the last few games. And hello CJ Fair. I like the Orange by seven.
Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan and I will be in DC for this one so it should be a ridiculous affair before, during, and after. Sign of the Whale and Clyde's respectively, before the Verizon Center for bottoms up beers while the Orange rightfully vanquish the smug, douchebaggery ridden masses of Georgetown. Say hi, hate on a Hoya, and Go Orange. We'll be back next week with lacrosse coverage, as well as our thoughts on the Calhoun suspension as another evil empire, Connecticut, has seen some justice at least.

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Even prone on the floor, he looks better with the head band
On a Big Monday game, Syracuse went out and did what we all wanted them to do. They beat Villanova on their home court, 69-64. They improved to 23-6 (10-6 Big East) with only two games left. They guaranteed at least a split of the two remaining tough road games. Most importantly, though, they did whatever they needed to do to win this game.
  • First, let me apologize for the factual errors in my preview. When the schedule was first released in October, this game was listed to be played at the Pavilion on the Villanova campus outside of downtown Philadelphia. Evidently it was either subsequently changed, or SU Athletics got it wrong (take your pick) but this game was indeed played at the Wells Fargo Center in the Sports Complex in downtown Philly. Either way, I neglected to do a more recent fact-check and just assumed this was an on-campus affair. Either way, Villanova lost, so I'm not too choked up about it.
  • This win places Syracuse in the 10-win category in Big East play, which is huge (ghosts from a few years ago aside).
  • There were many huge differences between this game and the game played in the Dome between these two schools last month. The biggest and most important was that Syracuse never found itself in a deep hole in this game, save for the six-point deficit to start the game.
  • Beyond that, Villanova shot one of its worst games ever. I'll break that down in a second, but let me repeat that: Villanova shot one of its worst games ever.
  • Leading the Orangemen in scoring was... Philadelphia native... Scoop Jardine. 20 points.
  • Now that you've both taken the requisite drinks and picked your jaw up off the floor, here's the context: Scoop was 7-11 shooting, including 2-3 from three, with six assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes. Oh. He also turned the ball over five times.
  • The rest of the starters: Rick Jackson (8-9 for 18 points), Brandon Triche (4-14 for 11 points), Kris Joseph (2-7 for 7 points), and Baye Keita (1-1 for 2 points).
  • Off the bench, CJ Fair once again stole the minutes with 30, this time however only chipping in four points on 2-6 shooting. CJ tweaked his ankle in the first half and, after retreating to the locker room, quickly made his way back into the game and obviously contributed significant minutes. He moved a bit gingerly upon his return, and that ankle will no doubt bother him in the days to come, but Syracuse doesn't play again until Saturday at Georgetown, and then after that the following Saturday at home against DePaul to close out the regular season. That should give him enough rest to deal with the ankle. That said, it's going to bother him the rest of the season.
  • The star/surprise off the bench was Dion Waiters. Dion got some nice playing time (18 minutes) in front of the home crowd. It helped that Scoop got in foul trouble and Triche wasn't shooting well. Still, it was nice to see Dion log some quality minutes and make the most of it. He scored seven points on 2-6 shooting, including 1-3 from three and 2-3 from the line, and picked up four rebounds.
  • Syracuse picked up nine steals and eight blocks in this game. The defense was active all game.
  • To show how active the defense was, Villanova decided to not shoot lights out. Instead, they put in a meager 32.3% effort, including 19.2% from three. They were something like 1-18 from the field to open the game. I guess this proves that shooting lights out with a hand in your face is good for one game and one game only; otherwise, that's good defense and it'll kill you.
  • After sitting out the last three games with turf toe (someone tell him he was balling on the wrong surface?) Corey Stokes returned, logged 36 minutes, and scored a team-high 24 points. The only other Wildcat in double-digit scoring was Isaiah Armwood with 12.
  • Jay Wright went with a small lineup for most of the game (either beckoning back to days of yore, or trying to match-up with the Syracuse look) but it didn't quite work out for him.
  • After a lane violation was called on Brandon Triche late in the first half, another one was called on Baye Keita, who immediately placed the ball down on the floor and walked away. This somehow got him a technical foul. So, too, would have been swearing at the officials in either English or Senegalese (French). Yet, restraint got the same result. So, lesson learned: Vas te faire encule, les fonctionnaires!
  • Syracuse shot 47.3% from the field, and 13-17 from the foul line to continue a recent good trend in both areas.
  • Am I concerned about Brandon Triche's poor shooting as of late? Yes. He was forcing some shots early in this one, but settled down as the game went on. He wasn't taking horrible shots (i.e. Scoop) but he was just off. That's okay when you're playing a team as cold as Nova was in this one, but you're not always going to be so lucky. Hopefully Triche either recognizes when he's cold and doesn't shoot, or only shoots cold when the opposition is as well. Otherwise, his empty possessions are going to cost Syracuse down the stretch.
  • The three teams Syracuse plays twice in the regular season are Seton Hall, Villanova, and Georgetown. Syracuse has played Hall & Nova twice, with the road teams winning all affairs. Syracuse has played Georgetown once, with the Hoyas stealing one in the Dome. Syracuse visits DC this Saturday. You do the math.
  • Brian is away from the home office this week, so you're stuck with me. I hope to get a lacrosse recap in before my trip to DC on Friday. If not, don't worry too much; lacrosse seems to run itself around these parts, so you don't need me to tell you what's up.

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Villanova - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: winning at the Pavilion would be HUGE!
In many regards, the matchup Monday night between the Syracuse Orange (22-6, 9-6) and the Villanova Wildcats (21-6, 9-5) is quite even. They both have similar records and are closely ranked. They're both coming off overtime victories Saturday against lesser opponents. They both are falling a bit short of expectations this season. So, this should be a pretty evenly matched game. When Villanova comes to the Dome, we like to pack as many people in there as possible. When Syracuse visits Villanova, they decide to play in the Pavilion instead of the downtown Wells Fargo Center. The Pavilion holds 6,500 people, and as of 9:30am EST, stubhub still had quite a few $30 tickets remaining. Sad. At any rate, most of us will be catching this game on ESPN's Big Monday broadcast tonight at 7pm. We'll get to see Corey Stokes back in action after missing three games with turf toe. Nova's leading scorer is usually good for about 15 points per game, and of course we all remember how he smoked the Orange last month with four of Villanova's 11 three-pointers. Between him and Corey Fisher, we'll either get rained on or peed on. At any rate, Syracuse has been getting great production from Brandon Triche and CJ Fair, who is coming off a career-best 17 points and has some serious swagger going. Villanova has already shown it can lose at the Pavilion (albeit to Pittsburgh) but I see no reason Syracuse can't do the same. In a game that comes down to who makes fewer mistakes down the stretch, I have Syracuse winning this one by one point in a thrilling Big Monday matchup. I'd also like to point out that Syracuse is undefeated when I write the blog's previews this year, so, we've got that going for us... which is nice.

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Villanova Q&A with VU Hoops

Time for round two, this time in Philly.
Syracuse is in Philadelphia tomorrow for the rematch against Villanova, one of the three teams they play twice this season. We did a Q&A for the last game, so this game is no exception. But we give you another blogger’s perspective. We caught up with Brian from He was nice enough to answer my questions. Let’s get to it.

1. Orange::44: Villanova beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome earlier this year. What areas did Villanova find success and what was the difference in the game?

Brian: The Wildcats had a great shooting performance in that game, and the ability to connect on 11 3-point shots. It's hard to lose when you shoot that well. Early success in that game was largely a product of shooting over the zone, but later in the game they were able to penetrate as well.

2. Orange::44: Corey Stokes has been out injured the last few games. What is the latest on his injury and do you see him playing against Syracuse?

Brian: Stokes has told reporters and fellow students that he would return for this game. He was out with the team prior to the DePaul game for the shoot-around, and that is clearly a good sign. When he was pulled from the Rutgers game I was pretty convinced he would be out for 2-3 weeks, however, so I'd still be a bit surprised if he were able to play a significant role tomorrow night.

3. Orange::44: Villanova lost at Rutgers and struggled against DePaul. What were the issues with Villanova in those games?

Brian: Turnovers absolutely killed Villanova in Piscataway. Most of the game was fine, but the 'Cats managed to commit a number of late turnovers in a 20 second stretch that got Rutgers right back into the game. The foul at the end of regulation was icing on the cake in that one. The 'Cats never really pulled away against Rutgers, and that made those turnovers more deadly.

Against DePaul it was really a lack of scoring. For most of the team, the shots just weren't falling on Saturday. Four players attempted a three-pointer against DePaul, but only Corey Fisher actually netted one (he had 5). Villanova has had games like that before, and they need to find ways to compensate.

4. Orange::44: Corey Fisher is a good player but doesn't seem to get the acclaim that other Big East guards have been getting this season. Why not, and does he deserve more?

Brian: He was named a Cousy Award finalist, which is a pretty high honor. He hasn't had the type of season that Kemba Walker has had though, and largely that might be because there are other scoring options on the team (and for much of UConn's season, there wasn't).

DePaul was really his "Breakout" game, in my opinion, as the first one where he really just took over and won the game for Villanova. He has had other tremendous games here and there, but none where he really seemed to just will his team to a win like that.

He has definitely been deserving of some acclaim, but I'm not sure that he had ever been as important to Villanova as Kemba Walker is to UConn or Austin Freeman is to Georgetown.

5. Orange::44: It seems despite their stumble against St. John's that Pittsburgh is the team to beat in the league this season. Do you think they are the best team in the league, and if not who?

Brian: Nobody in college right now is unbeatable, but Pitt has been one of the toughest opponents in Big East play by far. Everyone has picked up a few losses in-conference so far, and Pitt's have come against some pretty good teams.

St. Johns isn't the patsy we have become used to in the last few years. Pitt shouldn't be embarrassed that they went into St. John's home court and dropped a close one.

6. Orange::44: What will be the key match-ups Monday? What can Syracuse do to change the outcome in their favor?

Brian: With Stokes out, I am most interested in seeing Mouph Yarou fight with Rick Jackson on the boards. It should also be interesting to see Scoop Jardine take on either Wayns or Fisher.

The 'Cats have had trouble with turnovers recently and the best way for Syracuse to go after Nova is to challenge and look to force turnovers. Antonio Pena has been playing more on the perimeter than had been the case in the past, and he really isn't a tremendous ball-handler. When pressured on the ball, he will either turn it over or (if Nova is lucky) call a time-out.

Getting out ahead early also helps. Wayns and Fisher are far more likely to cough the ball up when they feel the need to force plays to get back into a game.

Thanks to Brian for taking the time. You can read more from him on Villanova at You can also follow him on Twitter @brianisawesome. Check out the answers to my questions here, along with the usual Philadelphia ridiculousness in the comments. You stay classy Philly! John will have the Villanova preview later today so stay tuned.

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You logged four seconds, Fab... is the towel really necessary?

In a day where the Big East was on upset alert, Syracuse had the luxury of playing at 4:00pm and watching the shenanigans from the early games... and therefore the opportunity to know that they couldn't be a part of it. Not that Rutgers didn't try its best to play the spoiler. Luckily, for the leagues dressed in orange, Syracuse prevailed over the Scarlet Knights 84-80.
  • This was the first overtime game of the season for the Orange. With only three regular season games left, I'm actually sort of glad they were able to have an experience like this. As we all know, the postseason can throw you anything (i.e. 6OT against UConn) so to have the real world experience helps should they face this situation again.
  • I'll get to the stats breakdown in a second, but let me just throw a few random observations out there... though Rutgers only played four off the bench, they were constantly being rotated in and out. Like literally every dead ball. A player coming out of the game wouldn't even get a chance to sit down on the bench before being sent to check in at the scorer's table.
  • I don't know if that's a strategy of keeping players fresh, or trying to keep the opposition guessing, or just a coach who can't make up his mind.
  • Speaking of the coach, Rutgers coach Mike Rice really has a lot of enthusiasm. That's the nice way of saying he came off as a whiny bitch. Case in point, the technical foul assessed against him midway through the second half, which by all accounts was way overdue. He literally was asking for it. Pretty sure I read his lips say "You gonna T me up? Bring it!" all the way from my seats in 309.
  • OK let's break down some stats. The one that jumps out at me is 34 of 47. No, sadly, that was not Syracuse baskets vs. attempts. At least, not in the usual sense. That was 34 made foul shots from 47 attempts. Which one of those numbers is more surprising? I mean, it was after 6:30 when this game got done, and that's not just because of the overtime... think of how much time Syracuse spent standing at the foul line!
  • Syracuse had four players in double-digit scoring: Kris Joseph (21), Rick Jackson (18), and Brandon Triche & CJ Fair with 17 each. Scoop Jardine chipped in nine, and the scoring was rounded out by Baye Keita with two.
  • Rutgers really didn't have a player who dominated, but Rice got contributions from all his players: Mike Coburn (18), Jonathan Mitchell (13), Gilvydas Biruta (12), Dane Miller & Austin Carroll (9 each), James Beatty, Austin Johnson, & Mike Poole with 5 each, and Robert Lumpkins with four.
  • Rutgers had the slight edge in shooting 45.6% to 43.1%, including winning the battle of the threes 39.1% to 31.6%. However, Syracuse, as mentioned above, hit the free throws and dominated that part of the game 72.3% to 64.3%. It should be noted that Rutgers only hit 9 of 14 from the line.
  • Rick Jackson threw down another double-double, adding 12 rebounds to his 18 points. He also blocked seven shots and really put his heart into playing defense in this game. With Boeheim relying almost exclusively on this smaller lineup with CJ Fair taking a forward position, it's sliding Ricky over to the center position and really making him work that much harder on defense. To his credit, he's really stepping it up and showing this team just how important he is. He even played strong with four fouls. The kid's gotta be pretty banged up and tired, but the strength he's added and the weight he's lost should really help him power through the remaining three regular season games and be ready for the postseason.
  • CJ Fair is a machine. But unlike IBM's Watson, he can play ball. Very well, mind you. Another game off the bench, and another game with starter's minutes for CJ (37 in this one). In addition to his career-high 17 points, the kid grabbed eight rebounds (three from the offensive glass), was 6-8 from the field, and hit 5-6 from the line. He's quick. He plays with his hands up on defense. He can just flat out play. You or I would have been rattled had a vital piece of our uniform come off, but when CJ lost his headband in this game, he threw it off the court and continued playing at a high level. Mad props to you, Chris Jr.!
  • Kris Joseph was clutch from the line down the stretch, when Rick Jackson wasn't so much. Credit where credit's due, Rick hit the tying foul shot to send the game to overtime. But it was Kris who was knocking them down in the overtime period to grow a Syracuse lead that was never relinquished. Hitting that 3 to put Syracuse up 75-71 and put us into the Taco Time was such a clutch shot from Kris. Once he hit that, I felt a lot more relieved and knew that Syracuse would end victorious.
  • Another really nice game from Brandon Triche. Though he short horribly (3-15 including 2-10 from three) he knocked down all nine foul shots, had six rebounds, four assists, and played all but one minute the entire game. When you're the shooting guard and your shooting is off, you have to find other ways to contribute to the team, and Brandon was able to do that.
  • And then there's Scoop. The most noise Scoop made in this one was tweaking his hand/wrist and lying on the court writhing in pain for a few minutes. He eventually shook it off and reentered the game, and logged 43 minutes. He also missed all three free throws. Thanks, Scoop.
  • Not that Dion Waiters could have done, or did, much better. In the token two minutes on the floor, he launched a three that missed. And that's his stat line.
  • James Southerland found his way into the rotation, albeit briefly. Five minutes, one missed field goal, and... that's it.
  • So that brings us to the Fab Melo & Baye Keita situation. Keita started the game, which I assume will be par for the course for the remainder of the season. In 11 minutes of action, he scored a field goal, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked two shots. He also picked up three fouls in that short time. It's clear to the blind that a person playing at CJ's level right now is going to play more than a person playing at Keita's level. Sure, you're bigger with Keita, but CJ is actually a positive on offense, and what he lacks in height on defense he makes up with hustle, position, and determination. As for Fab Melo, he entered the game with about 8:30 to go in the first half. Four seconds later, he committed his first and only foul of the game. He was promptly benched. Post-game, Boeheim said he shouldn't have put him in the game; he's not ready to play, and needs to learn the game and improve his skills. While I doubt we've seen the last of Fab this year, don't expect to see a lot of playing time out of him unless Syracuse is in a pinch.
  • The second-highest crowd this year was on hand to watch this overtime thriller, with 28,944 in attendance. Big props to the Syracuse faithful for making it out in crappy weather conditions, against a crap team, and making it a good atmosphere inside the Dome. However, it boggled my mind that quite a few left at the end of regulation, as if their tickets said "Only valid for the first 40 minutes of gameplay." WTF?
  • I'm convinced that this game went into overtime simply to make up for me missing the first several minutes of the game. My drive from Elmira took entirely too long, due to dicey weather conditions mainly between Ithaca & Cortland.
  • I once again had a plastic glass of wine at this game. We're a perfect 2-0 when I drink wine in the Dome. I think the Finger Lakes Wine Association should forge a partnership with SU Athletics and hire me as the spokesman. This plan can't fail.
  • There were some totally clueless people on the Kiss Cam. I think the only thing worse than rejection on the Kiss Cam is ... hmm ... maybe I should have had something in mind before I set that up. Oh well, what's typed is typed.
  • For those of you following @andyrautins1 on twitter, you knew he would be among the masses in the Dome. He certainly got a loud ovation when Mike Veley announced his attendance, and he was fired up several times during the game. Don't be a stranger, Andy!
  • They say "It's a whole new ballgame" when a game goes into overtime, and Mike Veley took that to heart. Having already used the "shooting a deuce for the Cuse" early in the first half, he took it upon himself to recycle it during the overtime period. I'll steal this line from Will Ferrell as George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live: "I tried folksy, but it came off douchey." Live & learn, Mike!
  • Obligatory "These Refs Sucked" comment.
  • Didn't effect the game, and obviously helped Syracuse get to the line for 47 shots, but still...
  • Syracuse has two incredibly tough road games at Villanova and at Georgetown before returning to the Dome for the season finale against DePaul. Assuming DePaul is still in the league by then. Then again, Providence might get the boot first, for losing to DePaul. At home. Nice work out there, Friars.


Rutgers - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: This should be a win, but no easy games in the league.
Rutgers comes in the Dome with a 13-12 (4-9) record, but they are playing far better at this point in the season than they were earlier (like every other team in the league). They only lost by two to St. John's in the Garden, only lost at Notre Dame by seven, and they beat Villanova by one at the RAC. But let's get real for a minute. Syracuse is 21-1 in the Carrier Dome versus Rutgers all time and Jim Boeheim has never lost to Rutgers at home. Syracuse has also won the last ten in a row. Rutgers has only one scorer in double figures with Jonathan Mitchell averaging 14.9ppg and hitting 42.3% from behind the arc. Everyone else on the team scores less than ten. Mitchell also leads the team in rebounding with 5.9ppg. He has been playing great lately, averaging 23.5ppg over his last four. If you limit Mitchell you beat Rutgers. And Rutgers is far more careless with the ball than Syracuse in recent history. The Scarlet Knights turned the ball 42 times in the last two games against the Orange. With Syracuse earning 8.7 steals per game this season, second best in the league, the Knights will have their hands full. Obviously if Mitchell can get open and find shots Rutgers will have a chance, but literally having to cover one guy to start the game should not be an issue for Syracuse. The Orange have a huge rebounding edge with Jackson and Keita. Earning rebounds off of Rutgers misses will always help, especially if Syracuse gets into a scoring drought. Even if Syracuse gets in trouble, talent should carry them late in this game. Look for this one to be close in the first half, but Syracuse should pull away in the second half to earn a double digit win. I like the Orange by 13.

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"I will slap you in the FACE!"
Welcome back to the Carrier Dome, and cold & snow & wind, and most importantly, winning. We all know Syracuse has struggled over the past month, going 4-6 and losing the last three games in the Carrier Dome. A loss to West Virginia on Big Monday would have been devastating in many aspects. Thankfully, the Orange went out there and played just well enough to earn a victory. Before 22,669 fans (supposedly), the Orange beat the Mountaineers 63-52.
  • For the second straight game, Syracuse started Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, and Baye Keita.
  • The first man out was Kris Joseph, who Boeheim rode hard all night for what I would assume is not being aggressive enough on offense (trying to lay the ball in when he has a clear shot to dunk and greatly increase his chances of making the shot) and being out of position on defense. Taking his spot was our new go-to man, CJ Fair.
  • Going right to the bench, CJ logged 37 minutes. For all intents & purposes, as long as he's playing well, he's the fifth starter. We're just flat out going to use this smaller lineup without a true center (sliding Ricky over to that spot). I guess this was inevitable when DeShonte Riley had to medical redshirt this season, and Fab Melo turned out to be what he is.
  • This is, of course, to take nothing away from Baye Keita. I've been praising him all season, and I won't stop now. But his offense leaves much to be desired, and Boeheim said as much in his post-game presser (well, at least the part of the presser where he actually discussed the game). In only nine minutes, Keita no points and four rebounds. He turned the ball over twice, which is really what the problem is. He's got bad hands. He can't catch a pass. I have all the confidence in the world that this problem can be corrected for next season. Unfortunately for him (and us?) it's still this season right now.
  • The rest of the starters played starter's minutes, and pretty much had the stats to back it up. Our leading scorer was Triche with 20 points on 7-12 shooting (2-5 from three) and a lot of production with four fouls. Kris managed 16 points on 5-10 shooting (1-2 from three) and also had a couple steals, a couple assists, and five rebounds. Ricky fell a rebound short of another double-double: 10 points and nine rebounds. Finally, Scoop had nine points on 3-10 shooting, six assists, five steals, and five rebounds.
  • I'll be honest, looking at the stat sheet right now, I'm surprised by Scoop's shooting numbers. I can only think of a couple times during the game when I was like "Oh Scoop, damn it!" I thought he had a rather okay game overall with few mistakes. He did turn the ball over four times, which is higher than the acceptable 2, maybe 3. But his gameplay didn't scream "boneheaded" to me in this one.
  • West Virginia got most of its production from Casey Mitchell's 23 points. He was 8-14 shooting, which included 7-12 from three. The next highest scorer for the Mountaineers was John Flowers with 10.
  • As had been expected, WVU wasn't going to wow us with their offense, and once the Orange found a way to contain Mitchell, they were already warming up the buses to travel back to Morgantown.
  • Overall, Syracuse shot 46.0% to WVU's 36.2%. The Mountaineers dominated the three-point shooting at 50.0% to 30.8% (11 to 4 made threes). Syracuse had the edge in rebounding at 31-26, and WVU had two more turnovers at 16-14.
  • After weeks -- no, months -- of joking about it, I finally bought wine in the Carrier Dome. It came in a little 6 or 8 ounce plastic cup, and it was weird walking that back to my seat. I insisted on holding my pinky out, just for the ridiculousness of it. It was a fine merlot, and $7 later, it seems we have a new good luck charm in the Dome.
  • I considered this a must-win for Syracuse, and luckily they pulled through. The remaining home games (Rutgers and DePaul) I also consider must-wins. I think to be safe, they need to win one of the away games at either Villanova or Georgetown.
  • But don't get me wrong. I don't think Syracuse is a bubble team. I don't think they're NIT bound. In fact, I get a little upset when people talk that way. The selections are four weeks from this past Sunday. There's still four games left, plus the Big East Tourney. We're 21-6. I mean, yeah, if you lose out and go 21-10 heading into BET, even if you win one there, it's gonna be tough. And you'll have a loss to DePaul on your resume. But come on, people. This goes along with the rant Boeheim went on in his postgame presser. The sky's not falling. It rains around here (and also snows, a lot) and you have to remember that. If the sky is falling come March 10th or 11th, then go ahead and panic. Till then, try to be a bit more optimistic, okay?

West Virginia - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: West Virginia is not our Valentine.
Those unwashed hillbillies are making their way up to Syracuse to take on the Orange. OK, enough of the unprompted hate for Valentine's Day. Syracuse is in the midst of another skid having lost their last two games to top 15 opponents. #25/NR West Virginia, unlike last season, is not probably much of a threat to head back to the Final Four. Da'Sean Buttler and Devin Ebanks are gone, but still remaining is Kevin Jones (13.0ppg) and Darryl Bryant (10.6ppg). Their leading scorer is senior Casey Mitchell, who is averaging 15ppg and shooting 36.2% from behind the arc. West Virginia is only the 12th best team in the league for three point shooting at 32.1%, so no Seton Hall or Louisville mega shooting night scenario is very likely. What is likely is Syracuse's dominance of West Virginia. Syracuse has won four in a row. West Virginia is a low scoring, small team this year. Syracuse is bigger (even if Fab Melo is not playing), Rick Jackson is still a monster rebounder (along with Keita), and Syracuse showed a lot of resilience in coming back from a 20 point deficit against Louisville. This is the perfect storm at home for a bounce back game for the Orange. I like the Orange to win this game by nine.

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Yes, Baye, it's okay to smile before your first collegiate start!

First, let me apologize for the title of this post. It absolutely sucks. But, so does losing. So, you know what they say: garbage in, garbage out.
Now, onto the recap. Syracuse visited the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky for the first time, looking to avenge the last game played in Freedom Hall last year when the Cardinals beat the Orange. Unfortunately, the same bad luck Syracuse has had against Rick Pitino as of late show itself again on Saturday. Despite a strong comeback in the second half, Syracuse fell just short and lost to Louisville 73-69.
  • Baye Moussa Keita earned his first start, in place of Fab Melo who had not practiced this past week, evidently due to family issues. While we obviously wish the best for Fab & his family, this was a lineup change that was weeks in the making and I, for one, was glad to finally see Keita rewarded for his hard work.
  • Keita had an okay game in this one, pulling down seven rebounds and having one hell of an assist, in only 15 minutes of play. He was a rebounding monster for the first several minutes of the game, and then pretty much disappeared for the remainder of the game. Coach Boeheim decided to go with a smaller lineup, which accounts for Keita's lack of minutes.
  • Anytime your center can grab seven rebounds in only 15 minutes of play is a great thing. Ultimately, Keita only had one point, and it's his offensive game (or lack thereof) that will be his kryptonite as the season progresses. As the TV crew of Doris Burke and Dave Pasche said numerous times, the offensive improvement will have to come in the off-season.
  • Scoop had a bit of a comeback of his own in this game, with 20 points and four assists in 35 minutes. Also of note, he only had two turnovers. The 20 points came on 8 of 15 shooting, including 4-8 from three. Of course he had a few typical boneheaded plays, but this overall is the Scoop we need to see consistently in every game.
  • I think Scoop was able to play a better game because either Brandon Triche or Dion Waiters were handling the point guard duties, allowing Scoop to be the shooting guard. Take away the need to make decisions, and Scoop is a decent ball player.
  • Speaking of Triche, the tone of this recap would be markedly different had Triche not gone on a shooting tear in the second half. They seemed like pity points at the time, when he was hitting three after three, but his offensive contributions at that point allowed Syracuse to get back in this game after having a 10-point halftime deficit, and at one point being down by 20. Brandon finished the day with a team-high 21 points on 7-13 shooting (4-9 from three) in 35 minutes.
  • The rest of the starters: Rick Jackson with seven points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes of action, having not attempted a field goal in the first half; and Kris Joseph with nine points in 30 minutes. Lots of people are talking about Kris, and him not being the superstar we all expected him to be. I'll jump on the bandwagon. He was lackluster during most of the non-conference games, and I had hoped he was saving it all for Big East play. He did step things up in Big East; the only problem is that he's been very inconsistent. Sure, you're gonna have your good days and your bad days, but the good should far outnumber the bad for a player of Kris's caliber.
  • The Syracuse bench belongs to CJ Fair. No, that doesn't sound right, because he was on the floor more than he was on the bench. 33 minutes actually. More than two starters (Joseph & Keita). Point I'm trying to make is that CJ is a huge presence off the bench, and is certainly making the most of his minutes. Against the Cardinals, he dropped 11 points on 4-6 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, had two steals, and a block. The kid is active on defense, positions himself well for rebounds, and offensively always finds himself around the basket and ready to lob the ball into the hoop. If I had to be nit-picky, I'd say he needs to get a little stronger to help him better finish around the basket -- so that those 2-shot fouls can be a basket +1 opportunity for the old-fashioned three point play.
  • James Southerland visited the court for eight minutes, and though he didn't score on either of his attempts, he did grab three rebounds, and had a steal and a block. Boeheim has to be happy that Southy tried to grab rebounds, and I think if he continues to work on that aspect of his game he can work his way back into the rotation as the season winds down, especially should Kris or Rick find themselves in foul trouble.
  • Finally, I'll mention Dion Waiters. If there was a non-factor player for the Orange in this game, Dion was him. In ten minutes off the bench, Dion had no points, no rebounds, no assists, and turned the ball over three times. While his presence allowed Scoop to not play the point, that's pretty much all you can say about Dion in this one. We look forward to seeing you on Monday.
  • Give it to Rick Pitino and what he has done with this team. For a squad that nobody thought had much going for them this year, they've become a hot-shooting Top-15 team and have the potential to make a run deep into the tournament.
  • The Cards' leading scorer was Kyle Kuric, who absolutely owned the area behind the arc. His 23 points were in large part from his 5-7 shooting from three. Right behind him was Preston Knowles with 22, including 7-12 from three. Rakeem Buckles in his return to action didn't score any points, but grabbed seven rebounds.
  • You want team comparisons? OK, I'll give them to you, but they won't make you happy. Overall shooting was 51.1% to 42.6%. The edge? Syracuse. Three point shooting was 48.1% to 45.0% with that edge going to the Cardinals. Rebounding? 33-30... Syracuse.
  • A bit demoralizing to see those stats and still hear that Syracuse lost. This obviously was a close game at the end, and a missed three here or there, or not coughing up the ball, or something tipping Syracuse's way could have changed the outcome.
  • What did not change the outcome was the officiating. Did we see some bad calls? Absolutely. We do in every game. This one saw a blatant miscall under the basket, where the initial ruling was a foul on the floor resulting in a one-and-one shooting opportunity for Louisville. Crew chief Brian O'Connell was then overruled by Roger Ayers, who claimed it was a shooting foul and thus, two shots. Replay after replay confirmed the foul on the floor, but the refs let it be a shooting foul. This point, ultimately, became moot when the shooter hit the first free throw (and subsequently the second), so even had it been a one-and-one, he would have had two shots.
  • This call didn't come without some arguing. Jim Boeheim let O'Connell know how he felt about the call. A temperate but animated Boeheim got right in the face of O'Connell, who was just as animated. To Jim's credit, he quickly put his hands behind his back so as to not make contact with the official. To O'Connell's credit, he let Boeheim have his say, and walked away without escalating the situation by calling a technical foul on the coach. Agree to disagree is the best case scenario there, and that's what we got.
  • The loss to the Cardinals now puts Syracuse at 20-6 overall (7-6 in the Big East). At least for the time being, that also puts the Orange in the bottom half of the Big East standings. It's not panic time yet, with five Big East games remaining, but we do not under any circumstances want to see this team playing in MSG on March 8. That's the Tuesday of championship week, if anyone was interested. Those Tuesday games are like the play-in games for the Big East tournament.
  • Those five remaining games are: West Virginia, Rutgers, at Villanova, at Georgetown, and DePaul. For momentum's sake, the next two home games against West Virginia and Rutgers are not only should-win games, but I'll go ahead and say must-win games. 22-6 (9-6) visiting The Pavilion at Villanova sounds much better than either of the alternatives. And even if (God forbid) Syracuse loses at Villanova and Georgetown, by winning the remaining home games (which should happen) Syracuse enters the BET at 23-8 (10-8) which, given recent struggles, we'll take.
  • Don't get me wrong, though. I'm still counting on a strong finish and a record of 25-6 (12-6) when all is said and done for the regular season.


Syracuse - Louisville Preview

Syracuse students agree: Beating Louisville would make everyone feel better.
Syracuse is coming off a very frustrating loss in the Carrier Dome to rival Georgetown. While Syracuse led for a good portion of the second half, the Orange failed to gain a field goal in the last six and a half minutes. That, plus stunned and confused defense, resulted in a stunning and unnecessary loss for Syracuse. Turning to this game, first thing's first; KFC Yum! Center? Ridiculous. That being said, Louisville has won the last six games versus the Orange, including two wins last season, both at the now closed Freedom Hall and in the Carrier Dome. But this is a new season like all of them, and Syracuse has to go into a brand new building. Louisville is getting two injured players back in Rakeem Buckles and Gorgui Dieng, who have sat out the last few games. L'ville's leading scorer is guard Preston Knowles, averaging 14.8ppg and shooting 39.2% from behind the arc. This is another game where Syracuse will have the edge on the inside as Rick Jackson is a monster in the post. If he manages to avoid fouls, he will be a huge factor in this game not only as a scorer, but as the league's best rebounder. Louisville has a boost in the post with Buckles returning, their team's leading rebounder, but the rebounding edge should belong to Syracuse. If that is the case, Syracuse will have a chance in this game. Honestly, if this game were in the Carrier Dome I might give the edge to Syracuse, but because this is at Louisville, and with the scoring woes of Syracuse as of late, I have to give this game to Louisville, especially with the recent history between the schools. The worst part is Pitino gets a lot of credit for being a better coach in terms of busing the zone. However, last season Louisville beat Syracuse with outside shooting. Not exactly a zone buster, simply just playing into the weakness of the zone. Louisville does not have the same outside shooting as this season with all the talent they lost, but they should do just enough because Syracuse is not as prolific an offense, to win this game. Truly this game is a coin flip, but because any game is tough to win on the road in the league I'll give this to Louisville by seven.

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Just two of the many dejected faces; Carrier Dome; 2.9.11; 9:01pm

This game of Big East heavyweights was progressing just as you'd expect: each team fighting and clawing their way forward however possible. Neither team was particularly outplaying the other, and the score was reflecting that. The second-largest crowd in the Carrier Dome was orange-clad and into the game. The players were playing with emotion. The coaches were animated. This had all the makings a great rivalry game should have. But the normal plot would have brought this down to the final seconds and the outcome would depend on who could make the final shot, or the final mistake. Instead, Syracuse forgot how to play good basketball for the final six minutes and allowed Georgetown to build itself enough of a lead to make any attempt at a Syracuse comeback futile. The Hoyas beat the Orange 64-56.
  • CJ Fair scored the last Syracuse field goal with 6:35 left to go. The score then was 53-49 Syracuse.
  • From there, Georgetown went on a 15-3 run to end the game.
  • I think the real do-or-die moment came when Jim Boeheim called a timeout with 4:43 left to go. Syracuse was grasping onto a 53-52 lead. I got this pit in my stomach. I knew Syracuse had two options on how to finish out the game: continue to be aggressive, score, and hold onto a slight lead; or, let the air out of the ball, probably end up with a bunch of empty possessions, and give up the lead.
  • They chose the latter.
  • I was extremely unimpressed with the possession coming out of that timeout. A couple passes followed by a horrible Scoop Jardine three-point attempt, no boxing out, and the ball going the other way.
  • I'm real hesitant to say Syracuse gave up at the end of the game. So I won't say that. But what I will say is that they forgot how to play good basketball. They were making bad choices on offense: chucking up hurried threes, or taking too much time passing the ball around, or not driving at the basket like they had all game. And they weren't boxing out, seemingly not even trying for offensive rebounds. And defense? It seemed like they were so dumbfounded by the offensive play they had just run and by the lack of effort at rebounding, that they forgot to run back on defense. By the time it clicked that "Hey, we should be down at the other end," the Hoyas were already executing an easy layup or dunk.
  • CJ Fair was the MVP for Syracuse on this night. 12 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes of play. He was especially good on defense, where he blocked two shots and really showed some quickness and active play.
  • Speaking of the zone, I think the zone was the most active when CJ and Dion were both in. To say that about freshmen who probably had never played zone before coming to Syracuse says a lot.
  • The middle of the zone, for most of the game, was occupied by Rick Jackson (4 points, 8 rebounds). After a lackluster three minutes to start the game, Fab Melo (0 points, 1 rebound) found himself on the bench for the remainder of the game. CJ Fair was added to the starting lineup at halftime.
  • This, unfortunately, put Jackson right in the middle of a lot of action and, thus, a lot of fouls. He picked up his 4th foul at 14:40 to go, and promptly went to the bench.
  • Luckily, Syracuse was fairing well without him. Baye Keita stepped up with four points, four rebounds, but an amazing five blocks. He was a defensive machine, and although his offense was lacking and you really want to see more rebounds from that position, his contributions kept Syracuse in this one in Ricky's absence.
  • Let's talk about Scoop. We all love when he nails the three, when he hits the mid-range jumper, and when he takes it through the lane to the hoop. But otherwise, he's a bonehead and we don't like him. In 34 minutes (second only to Kris Joseph who played the whole game), Scoop chipped in seven points and six assists. The real trouble came in the last several minutes of the game, when he was doing a horrible job at the point - taking too much time, not creating plays, rushing his own bad shots... Scoop being Scoop.
  • Scoop being Scoop is getting old, even for me to say. At first, it was funny. Now it's just sad. I really question why he does some of the things out there that he does -- not because I could do it better, but because I've seen him do it better, and I've seen others on the team (Brandon Triche, Dion Waiters) do it better. So why are we relying on this Scoop Jardine to run the offense?
  • Georgetown played a good game, but they were by no means dominating. I really feel this is a game Syracuse would have and should have won, had things gone according to the normal aforementioned plot.
  • The Hoyas' leading scorer was Austin Freeman with 14. Also in double digits was Julian Vaughn and Jason Clark (each with 12), and Hollis Thompson off the bench with 11.
  • Georgetown outshot Syracuse 45.3% to 39.6%, including an edge in 3s 42.9% to 25%.
  • The Hoyas also won the rebounding war 28-21, both numbers seeming low to me.
  • Another game for Syracuse with double digit turnovers (14) and another loss.
  • The Big East scheduled three opponents for Syracuse to play twice: Villanova, Seton Hall, and Georgetown. Also known as Syracuse's last three home losses. The good news is, if trends mean anything, Syracuse had already beaten Seton Hall on their home floor, and travel to Villanova on February 21 and to Georgetown on February 26.
  • We all love to bitch about the officiating, and last night was no exception. They were terrible. But they called it both ways, and you can't blame the loss on the refs. That being said, this was one of the most frustrating efforts by the officials I've seen in a while. They went from calling very little in the first half (Syracuse only had five first-half fouls) to then calling everything -- and I mean everything -- in the second half. If you're going to call a loose game, fine. If you're gonna call everything, fine. But be consistent! Have you ever seen so many charging fouls in a game? You gotta feel for the players, not only having to adjust to the other team's gameplan, but the officials' enforcement of the rules!
  • Big props to The UConn Blog for their Syracuse Love Day. They lost a bet fair and square, and took their day of devotion to Syracuse like a bunch of champions. We've praised them before here for "getting it," and this yet again proved that they are good people. Hopefully that can be an at least yearly tradition.

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Georgetown - Syracuse Preview Plus Bonus Hoya Hate

And thank God for that!
We here at Orange::44 don't get too worked up over many things. I mean how excited can you get over playing South Florida? But we do get exceptionally worked up for the big rivalry games. After all, rivalries are what make college sports special. So before we get to the preview, I review the top three moments, in my opinion, of this rivalry.
Honorable Mention
There are a lot of great moments in this rivalry, between John Thompson getting kicked out of the Carrier Dome, and Ewing taking some swings. But the biggest honorable mention for Syracuse fans has to be the 2007 home win versus Georgetown. Syracuse was basically left for dead in the league, and they came back to beat #10/9 on Senior Night. Cue the court rush.
It's 2004, and #24 Syracuse is in Washington. The game is tied with seconds left, and Hakim Warrick brings the ball up the court. Focusing on Warrick, Georgetown loses McNamara and Gerry hit a huge three ball at the buzzer to give SU the win. It really didn't have any impact on the season, but beating your rival in their house always feels good. To do it on a buzzer beater is better. And considering until the 2009-2010 season it was the last time Syracuse won in DC it was a very good win.
Syracuse needed four wins in four days in the Big East Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament in 2006. They did just that, but in game three Syracuse faced #23 Georgetown in the semifinal round. Georgetown was ahead the entire game until with only seconds remaining, Matt Gorman got a steal and Gerry McNamara passed the ball up to Eric Devendorf for a lay up and their first lead of the game. Syracuse held on to win and eventually won the Tournament.
Syracuse was riding a winning streak of over 50 games in February of 1980. It was the last men's basketball game in Manley Field House and SU was ranked #2. We all know how this ends. Syracuse lost and John Thompson proclaimed "Manley Field House is now closed." What a dick. That is the stuff legendary rivalries are made of.
So we fast forward to this season. #11 Georgetown enters the Carrier Dome to take on #12/13 Syracuse. Let's get some numbers out of the way first. John Thompson III has never won in the Carrier Dome. Georgetown has beaten the Orange once in the Carrier Dome since 1995 and have not won in the Dome since 2002. Coincidentally enough, that was the last game that was a third loss in three games in the Carrier Dome. That being said, Georgetown has won six games in a row, and Syracuse two. Austin Freeman is the leading scorer for the Hoyas, earning 18.7ppg. Chris Wright is also averaging 12.8ppg. Both can shoot, but G'town was 0-11 in the second half of their game against Providence. This game breaks down pretty simply though. Syracuse has a tough defense that is now clicking on all cylinders again. Georgetown has a very good offense that has the capability of scoring and they shoot the ball very well. The SU defense is about as good as the Georgetown offense. So what does that mean for the game? Syracuse will have to earn rebounds. The good news is that Rick Jackson is averaging five more rebounds a game than the Georgetown leader Julian Vaughn. If Syracuse pays attention and limits back door cuts for Georgetown, as well as earns rebounds off missed Georgetown shots, Syracuse will win this game. Earning transition baskets will also be important. I think Georgetown will probably get out to an early lead, but Syracuse will again come back and win this game, similar to how the Connecticut game went for them. I see Syracuse winning this one by five at home.
We're really ramping up the hate on Twitter today. Check out @BH_Orange44 and @JBren for coverage before the game. As there will be a large crowd in the Dome coverage may be spotty later, but look for a lot of hate leading up to the tip. The game, in case you just missed it, is 7:00pm tonight on ESPN / ESPN HD. Oh and one more item, courtesy of our friends the Idiots on Sports...

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You know that was a terrible call Higgins!
A four game skid, a win versus #7 rival Connecticut, and then a possible trap game in Tampa against South Florida (still not in South Florida). This game could have been another Seton Hall, a completely unexpected lights out game for USF. Yet, Syracuse simply dominated from start to finish. Which is exactly the kind of game Syracuse needed to have versus a bottom four team in the league. They blew the doors off USF in front of a majority orange crowd.
Syracuse and USF started the game neck and neck and the game went back and forth until about the 12 minute mark in the first half. Then Syracuse took over. Rick Jackson went back to work, Dion Waiters hit a three, and Syracuse caused turnovers. It was about a four minute scoring drought on the part of USF that caused Syracuse to get an eleven point lead and really never let the game get closer than eight point in the first half, when the score ended 37 to 28. Syracuse continued to cruise in the second half, with an addition of a lot of transition offense. Adding another scoring drought of about five minutes down the stretch, Syracuse earns a big win in Tampa 72 to 49.
  • Rick Jackson was the game's leading scorer. He finished with 21 points, a season high. He also had 12 rebounds for yet another double-double. He added four assists, a steal, and a block. He continues to dominate every team from the low post and when doubled make good decisions in passing the ball out. He was also 5-8 on free throws, so that's a plus.
  • Kris Joseph had 14 points, and earned seven rebounds. He was also a perfect 5-5 on free throws.
  • Scoop Jardine only scored five points, and was only 1-4 from behind the arc, but he earned eight assists, which is far better than he has been doing in terms of finding opportunity for other players. This was a nice game for Scoop.
  • Dion Waiters probably worked slightly out of the doghouse in this game. He played for 19 minutes, and did earn ten points, but shot only 3-8 from the field. What was encouraging was he was 2-3 from long range.
  • Fab Melo actually played 12 minutes in this game and earned four points and three rebounds. I look forward to when he can really play next season.
  • Brandon Triche was only 3-10 from the floor, and made some questionable decisions in this game. He did finish with eight points though. He was just cold on the day going 0-4 from behind the arc.
  • Syracuse shot a brisk 44.6% from the floor, while Syracuse limited USF to 25.3, below Syracuse's season average for field goal defense.
  • Syracuse only made 4-15 from behind the arc, but that was still far better than the 2-15 USF had.
  • Syracuse again shot better than 75% on free throws, converting 18-23 (78.3%).
  • Syracuse also limited turnovers to single digits with eight. USF had 11.
  • The Orange crushed USF on the boards 40 rebounds to 26. That is astounding but not terribly surprising.
  • Reports were slightly conflicted, but most had the crowd at 75-80% rooting for Syracuse. I totally buy this, and that's pretty sad for USF. Then again, Andy Katz thinks Tamps is a Satellite Campus for Syracuse.
  • The Orange take on Georgetown on Wednesday at 7:00p. Welcome to Rivalry Week. That game promises to not be nearly as boring as this one.

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Unsung hero of the day, Mr. Keita.
Syracuse had lost four games in a row, and what wasn't helping was having to then travel to rival UConn's place in Hartford for a game against only the #6/7 team in the nation. On top of that Jim Boeheim has never presided over a five game losing streak in the history of his coaching career. And to add even more of a wrinkle was the absolutely unfounded rumors of a fabricated point shaving scandal. But somehow, through it all, Syracuse managed to persevere and earn a top ten win.
Syracuse started this game poorly again, allowing Connecticut to jump off to a six point lead, remaining scoreless until 14:29 in the first half. Both teams were not great on the offensive end in the first half, with SU shooting 32% to UConn's 29%. Despite the early lead, Syracuse managed to catch up and with just over two seconds left in the half, get a pass into Rick Jackson to get a two point hook shot to drop for the 26-25 Syracuse lead at the half. UConn never took the lead back. Connecticut tied the game at 36 with 14:04 to go, but Syracuse pulled away, earning a nine point lead, equaling the largest lead UConn had in the first half. Connecticut would get back within one point with 4:56 remaining, but that would be as close as they would get. Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine managed to score and hit free throws down the stretch, while Connecticut missed shots and failed to grab rebounds. Connecticut earned a steal with less than a minute for an easy lay up to give SU fans a scare, but free throws and a final Jackson tip in sealed the game. Syracuse won at UConn for the first time since 1999 by a score of 66 to 58.
  • Brandon Triche was SU's leading scorer, tying a season high 16 points on 7-16 shooting, hitting 2-7 from behind the arc. He also earned three rebounds and one assist in 29 minutes of work. While he did dribble into traffic instead of taking a good shot, and made some seemingly rookie mistakes, he played well and obviously was the scoring necessary in this game.
  • How good does Rick Jackson continue to be? He earned a solid 13 and 13 in 38 minutes and seemed almost unstoppable when guarded one-on-one.
  • Kris Joseph had an interesting game offensively. I think he more than the others on the team tried to force some offense. He dribbled into a clogged lane and took contested shot after contested shot with no foul calls in sight. He also bricked two absolutely dreadful three point attempts early in the first half. He finished with 11 points but was only 3-11 from the floor and 1-3 from behind the arc. He really shined on his 4-5 free throw shooting and four rebounds.
  • Scoop Jardine is such a coin flip. He can make some excellent passes and drive and kick like the best, or just chuck the ball up and basically give the ball to the other team. He finished with seven points on 2-11, 0-2 shooting, but hit a key 3-4 free throws down the stretch. He did have six assists and three rebounds however.
  • Dion Waiters earned nine points and four rebounds off the bench in 18 minutes of work. He also had three steals.
  • The glue guy of this game was clearly Baye Moussa Keita. In 27 minutes of play, before fouling out, he earned four points, but more importantly 11 rebounds, six steals, and two blocks. He had an excellent defensive game and really did well on the boards when in the middle of the zone. He played the best of the freshmen in this game.
  • Syracuse held Kemba Walker to eight points, a season low. He shot 3-14 and 1-6 respectively.
  • Sadly UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb blew up from the wing with 22 points, but had SU guarded him more closely Kemba Walker probably would have blew up. I'll take the kid getting 22 and limiting Walker, the best player in the league.
  • Syracuse got back to solid defense, only allowing Connecticut to shoot 36.2%. That's way down from around the 50% Syracuse was allowing during their skid. Syracuse shot only a slightly better 37.7 from the floor.
  • Syracuse started poorly from the outside arc, and thanks to Triche the average rose a bit. Syracuse finished 4-15 (26.7%) from behind the arc, while Connecticut finished 8-23 (34.8%).
  • Syracuse outrebounded Connecticut by ten, 42 to 32. This is huge, and one of the best ways to try and beat Connecticut. Syracuse got the job done thanks to Jackson and Keita specifically.
  • While Connecticut led in assists 18 to 11, this is mostly due to Rick Jackson getting isolations a lot of the time down low.
  • Syracuse had a magnificent 12 steals, while UConn picked up six. Don't believe the zone was more active? 12 steals proves it.
  • Syracuse stayed under the magic double digit number for turnovers, only committing nine. Connecticut had 14. Syracuse leader was actually Jackson with three.
  • While not leading the conference in blocks currently, Connecticut has traditionally been a leading team for blocks. Syracuse and Connecticut each had six in this game.
  • I can't remember a game that had more jump balls and crazy, errant shots fall. There were three shots that had no business finding the bottom of the net, but they sure did.
  • CJ Fair is the master of having shots go almost in only to roll back out.
  • Keita played very well in this game, but he seriously needs an airhorn to alert him that a pass is coming. Otherwise he doesn't seem to catch it.
  • While Kemba Walker was contained in this game, so was Alex Oriakhi, only shooting 3-9 and earning only nine points. He is the second most important player on that team.
  • Syracuse just killed UConn in the paint. That is what Syracuse needs to continue to do on offense. Make passes, be patient on offense, dribble and kick, and keep earning rebounds for easy put backs. Syracuse's offense was far more patient in this game, even despite falling behind early with a slow start again. Finally good to see.
  • I look forward to The UConn Blog's "Syracuse Love Day" this Wednesday when Syracuse takes on Georgetown in the Carrier Dome. Should be a special treat for all.
  • Syracuse will next travel to Tampa to take on South Florida. That game is Saturday at 2:00pm.
  • One final thought... UConn... U SUCK!

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Syracuse - Connecticut Preview

Syracuse students agree: The time for a win is now.
The time for talk, and rumors, are basically done. Now it's time to settle in and play a game. A game that has history on both sides. Syracuse has failed to win at a Connecticut home game since 1999. That's four games in Hartford and three in Storrs. That being said, Jim Boeheim has never lost five games in a row as head coach of Syracuse. Tonight's game will be played in Hartford in the XL Center, a good 30 plus minutes from Storrs. With the weather being poor and an expected two feet of snow arriving before tip time tonight it is unclear how many UConn faithful will brave the weather in favor of hot hoops action. That being said, this game is between #6/7 UConn and #17 Syracuse. One thing is clear in this rivalry game however. It does not matter what team is ranked what, this will be a close game. History proves that. This will be a game where the key match is between the contrasting styles of the teams. UConn will look to get Kemba Walker involved in not only shooting, but penetrating the zone and making nifty passes to set up his teammates. Syracuse will obviously look to get some threes, but the primary game plan should be to get the ball to Rick Jackson down low and let him do some dirty work. Syracuse's offense has actually been decent the past few games in terms of percentages and actual buckets. What has not been is the 2-3 Zone. While it could be confidence or lack of hustle or just not paying attention, the zone has ballooned from holding teams to around 38% from the floor, to around 50% the last few games. Additionally, Connecticut is just slightly better at rebounding right now in terms of numbers. Obviously solid defense is a must versus UConn. I do not think energy or lack of hustle will be an issue on defense in this game. And obviously Jackson and company will get enough rebounds. What is important for this game is a strong start to the game. If Syracuse gets in a 7-13 point hole early in this one, it will be extremely hard to come back and then get ahead. This team has shown they can close gaps and come back, but have yet to go ahead and then retake the lead. If Syracuse and UConn are close at the half, I believe the game will then strongly favor Syracuse. Traditionally, even going back to 2003, Syracuse has been a second half team in close games. This year is no different and Syracuse showed real signs of life in the second half of the Marquette contest. Kemba Walker can be limited, as Syracuse did last season. Alex Oriakhi is good but has been inconsistent. Other post players for Connecticut are not as talented and will have to use double or triple teams to contain Jackson. That will leave other players open for good looks from outside, or provide opportunity for a cutting player to get an easy bucket. If Syracuse limits turnovers and continues to be patient on offense, making passes, and get the ball inside, Syracuse has the advantage in this game. If this game was in the Carrier Dome I'd like Syracuse's chances to bounce back. However, because this game is at Connecticut I think they will end up just short in a close game. I could easily be wrong with this one, and I really hoping I am, but I think Connecticut pulls this one down by six.

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In Preparation of UConn

He's not as cute as you think.
In preparation for Syracuse's upcoming rivalry game with the Connecticut UConn Huskies in Hartford, CT's XL Center, we go around the internets to get you prepared before Orange::44's official preview is released tomorrow as per usual. First, Campus Socialite has released a really cool graphic on the rivalry. Check that out below.

Next, the good folks over at The UConn Blog have once again enlisted their favorite Orange bloggers to participate in their usual hate filled pre-show to the SU/UConn game. So I have written a nice little piece about how great it is to be at UConn these days in the name of civility. Sort of. You can find that here.

The Bet between The UConn Blog and our friend Matt Glaude of Hoya Suxa was fantastic last year. So this year should be no exception. The new bet can be found here, and a really great piece by Matt called The Welcome Address is also worth a read here.

It's always fun leading up to this one, so I look forward to all the various previews and assorted trash talk that accompanies this one. The teams are both in Hartford tonight so the game is on. Stay tuned for our preview tomorrow, but until then UConn... U SUCK!

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