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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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