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"So Timmy, how we gonna screw Syracuse?"  "Oh, we will, John. We will."
Before I get into the recap here, let me give a big thanks to the Post-Standard and photographer Frank Ordonez.  That gem there is Frank's work, and he has a collection of 25 awesome shots over at so go check that out after you're done reading this.
Of all the games Syracuse has seen on its schedule so far this season, this was the one that, looking at it before the game, made me the uneasiest.  The Golden Eagles are always a dangerous team, have a ton of different ways to beat you, and of course got us twice last year.  The only team to beat Syracuse twice last year.  And the team that sent us home in the NCAA Tournament.  Add to that a #20 next to their name and the huge lead they had against Georgetown the other night, and that was creating a possibility that things would be difficult.  Now, of course, they lost that lead -- and that game -- to Georgetown, so they can be beaten.  And, though it was a struggle, Syracuse held on to beat Marquette on Saturday 73-66.
  • Syracuse came right out of the gate in this one and played a terrific first half.
  • Great first half play was capped by a huge 19-0 run from 11:57 to 2:19.  Talk about a scoring drought!  Obviously, credit the Syracuse defense on that.
  • Leading the way for Syracuse was Kris Joseph, who in a game-high 38 minutes scored 17 points on 5-8 shooting, including 4-4 on threes, had four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.  You want solid play from your senior leader?  That's it.  Do it that way every night, Kris!
  • Brandon Triche had another monster game, again dropping in 16 points on 5-12 shooting, 4-9 from three, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block.  Brandon's stat line is impressive, but it doesn't tell much about how clutch it was.  The shots that he hit, the rebounds that he grabbed, if you look at where in the game they happened, they all really helped Syracuse keep its lead.
  • Kris and Brandon were the only starters in double-digit scoring.  Fab had six in 18 minutes, Scoop just three in 24 minutes, and Rakeem scoreless in his token five minutes.
  • Rakeem just wasn't cutting it today.  In his five minutes, he missed two shots, grabbed a rebound, and fouled twice.  Head Coach Jim Boeheim quickly realized this wouldn't be the kind of game where you can rely on a freshman forward who isn't so used to the extreme physical play of the Big East.
  • Rakeem's benching allowed for the healthy-enough-to-play Baye Keita to log 20 minutes.  Baye only scored four points, but two of them came on free throws down the stretch that, as Boeheim noted, really helped seal the game for Syracuse when Marquette was within two.  Baye was also active in the zone, with two blocked shots.  Of his five total rebounds, three came on the offensive boards, giving the Orange a chance for second chance points.
  • Two of my favorite players on Syracuse lately are Dion Waiters and CJ Fair.  The minutes and the determination they provide this team off the bench are no doubt the envy of the league.  CJ scored 13 points in 30 minutes, while Dion tallied 12 on 28 minutes.  Fair was all over the boards with eight (leading the team with Fab Melo in that category), and Waiters dished out seven assists to lead the team.
  • Bottom line with those two guys, CJ and Dion, is that they just go out there and produce.  They're consistent and they're good.  If CJ is the glue guy (he's more than that), Dion must be the concrete guy.  He doesn't break easy, and he's solid as concrete.
  • To give credit where credit's due, Marquette played a great game.  They were physical, they shot the ball well, and they made the adjustments at the half necessary to go out there and close the 37-19 halftime gap.  And close it they did!
  • Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams got the most out of his starters, with three of them in double-digit scoring (Darius Johnson-Odom with 19, Jae Crowder with 15, and Junior Cadougan with 10) and the other two starters with nine (Davante Gardner and Vander "Powder" Blue).
  • Buzz had a constant rotations of substitutions, going to four bench players to keep his starters fresh.  While the bench logged 45 minutes, the bench scored four points.  I mean, Todd Mayo scored four points.
  • If you were in the Dome for this one, you know that Buzz Williams was the biggest source of consternation for Cuse fans.  Being on the court and being beyond the line of the coaching box is Buzz's style, and in this one he went wherever he wanted.  At one point, literally the entire Carrier Dome crowd of 25,412 was on its feet chanting "GET OFF THE COURT!"
  • It doesn't bother me that a coach might be fired up and coming out of the coaching box to help out his players.  What bothers me is that this coaching box rule was solidified by the Rules Committee a couple years ago, and became a point of emphasis.  A violation (usually after a warning) is supposed to result in a technical foul.  I think Jim Boeheim had to change his in-game coaching style a bit when that rule came down (I believe he actually led the charge on that, actually), so to see him abide by that rule and others just totally disregard it -- with no consequence from the officials -- is what bothers me about it all.  So, am I mad at Buzz?  No, because he saw he could get away with it.  I'm mad at Tim Higgins, John Cahill, and John Gaffney.
  • Higgins, Cahill, and Gaffney were the officials in this game.  We didn't think things could get much worse than what we saw in Providence last Wednesday, but it sure seemed like this was worse.  Fab Melo was in foul trouble virtually the entire game, and picked up a flagrant for throwing what they must have determined to be an inadvertent elbow.  I haven't had the luxury of seeing the replay on that, but in real time from my seats in section 309 I didn't see anything other than a heap of powder blue fall to the floor.
  • You might not believe this, but Marquette had 21 personal fouls to Syracuse's 18.
  • Syracuse shot an abysmal 39.3% from the floor vs. the slightly better Golden Eagles' 40.4%.  At the end of the day, the difference came from three-point shooting (Syracuse won 40% to 23%) and free throw shooting (Syracuse won 74% to 61%).
  • Syracuse out-rebounded Marquette 40-34.  Syracuse also won on the offensive boards 13-9.
  • Uncharacteristic for the Orange, the turnover margin was only +1 (16-15).
Syracuse is now getting a good, healthy dose of "Humongous Target On Our Backs."  This team will be facing adversity on every aspect of the game: from the opposition, to the officials.  The solution is not to make excuses about those things, but to overcome them.  And that's what Syracuse did on Saturday afternoon.  If the officials are going to throw you for a loop and call a certain game, change your game strategy or change your lineup.  With a team as deep as this, Syracuse can do so almost flawlessly.  The key, obviously, will be to keep these guys as healthy as possible so they can continue to be as deep as they are.  Boeheim has a lineup for virtually any situation, and his Hall of Fame credentials make him the best equipped to use this deep bench to put the best five out there in any situation.
Saturday was a day of upheaval in the Big East.  #9 Georgetown lost to West Virginia; Rutgers beat #8 UConn ;and Notre Dame beat #10 Louisville.  Syracuse held on for the victory, to improve to 17-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big East, which leads you to question who else in the conference is going to step up?  You hate to say that, because you're asking for an opportunity to eat your words in a few weeks when Syracuse gets beat.  But it will happen, eventually.  I mean, right?  Or does the fact that Pittsburgh and Villanova sitting winless at the bottom of the conference standings mean there's been a huge shift in power that could create the perfect storm for Syracuse?
Speaking of Villanova, the Wildcats are the next opponent for Syracuse.  The Orange travel to Philly for a Wednesday night tilt at 7:00pm, which can be seen nationally on ESPN2.  Look for the typical pre- and postgame coverage here on Orange::44.

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