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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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