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The C in CJ is for Consistent

Coming off that tough loss against Georgetown on Saturday, Syracuse traveled to Milwaukee on Monday to battle Marquette and try to right the ship. And largely, they did. The Orange looked better on offense in shooting better, looked better on defense by largely not giving up easy baskets and creating turnovers, and just looked way better than the effort we saw on Saturday. Yet, Syracuse still lost. The Orange carried a small lead into halftime and led for a good portion of the second half, but once they ceded the lead to Marquette with 5:05 to go, Syracuse would never again lead. The Golden Eagles go on to take this one 74-71.

  • It's been an up-and-down February for the Orange, and especially after this recent stretch with losses against UConn, Georgetown, and now Marquette, one has to take a step back and figure out where this team is going; what's wrong; and how to fix it.
  • Let's start with what's going right for Syracuse. His name is CJ Fair. He's been what's right for the Orange all season. He's a consistent scorer, he's a smart player, and he's the model for what the rest of the team needs to be. Monday night he put in a team-leading scoring effort of 20 points on 8-11 shooting (1-2 from three, 3-4 from the line). He also pulled down seven rebounds in playing the entire 40 minutes.
  • The rest of the team will have one or two other contributors step up for any given game, but it's always CJ there leading the way. And so, does this make him the vaunted go-to guy? Hard to say. Fair is good because he knows when to shoot and when to pass off to someone else. So if the go-to guy is expected to get the ball and score no matter what, then CJ isn't him. But who says Syracuse needs a go-to guy?
  • What Syracuse needs is smart players who can execute.
  • I do want to point out the good play of Baye Moussa Keita and Trevor Cooney from the Marquette game. Keita not only impressed on offense (seven points, four offensive rebounds), but he was solid on defense with four defensive rebounds, a block, and a steal. Cooney was only used for six minutes, but he was active with three points, an offensive rebound, and a couple assists.
  • Keita's game was possibly the best of his career in terms of overall performance. The box score isn't screaming great game, but his play under the basket on both ends of the court was quite good (Davante Gardner's play aside).
  • Cooney showed some other aspects of his game in rebounding and assisting that we usually don't see from him. With Brandon Triche playing as poorly as he was and Cooney looking good in those six minutes, I was hoping Jim Boeheim would swap them, but never did.
  • Triche continues his offensive woes. He's taking good shots and missing them, he's taking bad shots and missing them, and at the end of the day Syracuse just gets empty possessions. Triche had eight points and eight assists in 37 minutes. When you're going to get those minutes and you're the senior leader of the team, you gotta do better than that.
  • For Marquette, their big man Gardner killed Syracuse. He was their offensive go-to guy, knocking down a career-high 26 points on 7-7 shooting, and 12-13 from the line. This guy is a beast, plain and simple. Even when Syracuse tried to prevent him from getting good looks, he still hit his shots.
  • Much has been made about Boeheim keeping DaJuan Coleman on the bench in this game, despite him being medically cleared to play. The dominance of Gardner is Exhibit A there. Boeheim's response, to all us non-coaches, is that his two best defensive players were on the court. So for us non-coaches who wanted to see Coleman, who do you remove from the lineup? Keita stays in as far as I'm concerned; he was playing well. Southerland was trouble on defense, but does that outweigh the difference in offense with Coleman? Christmas? Bottom line is I tend to believe Boeheim; Coleman being in that game probably wasn't going to change the outcome.
  • But this all highlights a great point I saw in Brent Axe's recap that I've been noticing myself: Syracuse keeps letting one guy beat them. In four of Syracuse's losses, an opposing player has had a career day: Khalif Wyatt for Temple, Durran Hilliard for Villanova, Otto Porter for Georgetown, and Gardner for Marquette. It's gonna happen from time to time, but when you see the correlation with losses, it shows a team in Syracuse that can't make adjustments.
  • This game was Syracuse's final appearance on ESPN's Big Monday, unless the landscape is reconfigured in the future and ACC games enter that lineup.
With the loss against Georgetown and at Marquette, it seems Syracuse can't win the regular season Big East title. Just as well, I don't like that Thursday noon game during the Big East Tourney. So now Syracuse has a few days to recover, regroup, and try to find that magic they took with them to #1 Louisville to beat them. The Cardinals aren't #1 anymore, but they're coming into the Dome on Saturday for a big game that will have repercussions for each team's postseason positioning.

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I'm guessing I felt worse than this.
Georgetown just ruins things. At least that's part of what makes a rivalry great. It can't be all one sided. It was in this game though in that Otto Porter was all Georgetown needed to beat the Orange.
  • Syracuse had their lowest point total in the Dome ever with 46.
  • Syracuse's defense did enough of a job, holding Georgetown to 57 points which usually would be enough to win the game.
  • Both CJ Fair and James Southerland led the scoring for Syracuse with 13 points each. Fair the most consistent on 5-10 shooting. Both also had eight rebounds.
  • Rakeem Christmas, finishing only with two points, at least led in rebounding with eight.
  • MCW had only seven points and five assists on 2-6 shooting.
  • Brandon Triche had ten points shooting 4-13 and 1-7 from behind the arc. Easily his worst performance on the floor since the UConn game.
  • Baye Moussa Keita produced no points and only three rebounds in 12 minutes of play.
  • Syracuse was 17-50 from the floor (34%) and 4-20 (20%) from deep. While the Georgetown statistics were similar, the turnovers and fouls were the difference for Syracuse.
  • Despite out rebounding Georgetown by two, Syracuse had far too many empty possessions and missed layups to stay in the game in the second half.
  • While officiating wasn't the reason Syracuse lost, every game Jim Burr does is a highlight reel of why he should be retired.
  • Syracuse had the largest on campus crowd ever in this game of 35, 012. Unfortunately they lost. Syracuse has lost 2/3 of the last 3 record breaking games.
  • Syracuse played with major intensity in the first half, but as the second half ticked away you could see that intensity and defensive energy dwindle as Georgetown hit key three point baskets to take the lead and give them a 6-8 point cushion.
  • Syracuse had 16 turnovers to Georgetown's 11. A big part of the outcome of this game, and preventing them from getting the defect down to a manageable one or two possessions.
Syracuse then traveled to Marquette and lost that one. My cohort John Brennan will be back to recap that affair later tonight. For now, Georgetown is atop the Big East and Syracuse will have revenge on it's mind when they travel to DC for their final Big East regular season game.

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Syracuse - Marquette Preview

Syracuse students agree: Syracuse isn't looking good lately.
Syracuse had a short turnaround between a dreadful offensive performance for a Big Monday match against another leading team in Marquette. And yeah, Syracuse is going to be playing against a great defense in Marquette who is active and grinds other teams down by their pace of play and outside shooting. Syracuse must dominate the offensive and defensive glass to have a chance of beating Marquette in their building. All the guards will attack off the bounce and find gaps in the zone to not only shoot from, but also kick out to more than capable shooters. Honestly, I wish I had even a small bit of confidence for the Orange's offense lately, but how can you after you've seen not only how they performed in their last game, but on the road overall this season. Brandon Triche bouncing back will be the key to the game. If Syracuse can get production from him they have a chance. But right now the smart pick is Marquette by 12. This game is available nationally on ESPN at 7:00pm ET.

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Georgetown - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're gonna be packed in for a great college basketball game.
Georgetown versus Syracuse. 35,000 plus. Last conference game in the Carrier Dome. #11 versus #8. This has the makings of a classic. For 33 years these teams have hated each other. Tomorrow afternoon will be no different. Syracuse is coming off an impressive win over Providence, blowing them out at the Carrier Dome. Georgetown blew out Providence in DC. Something that isn't exactly impressive as it was against DePaul, but in the Big East any blowout is noteworthy. Syracuse will play zone and need to keep scoring against the Hoyas, who have some pretty tough defense. Syracuse will need steals and transition points to keep ahead of Georgetown. Since Syracuse is at home I anticipate a good shooting night for all involved in Orange, especially James Southerland, CJ Fair, and Brandon Triche. CJ Fair was again a solid scoring leader in the last game, Southerland was great shooting off the bench from way back, and MCW dished out the ball enough to earn a double-double. The real X-Factor in this game is Otto Porter. The leading scorer (15.1ppg) and rebounder (7.7rpg) for the Hoyas, he banged his knee recently. If he is 100% Syracuse could have trouble containing him. He can be a zone buster hitting mid-range shots in the gaps, or even drilling some big outside shots. If he is off however, Georgetown could have a very long day. Not like Nate Lubick is going to set the world on fire. That guy sucks. If he is playing well we should have a good game on our hands. If Porter is off, Georgetown will struggle late in the game and Syracuse will cruise to victory. Either way this should be a fun atmosphere, and electric crowd, and a very loud Dome. No way I'm picking against the Orange in this game, all things considered. Syracuse over the Hoyas by 14. This game will be available nationally on CBS at 4:00pm. If you're going to the game good luck with your phone and/or internet. Do some good and donate a caned good on your way to the game. This place is going to be bonkers. ... And Georgetown stills sucks!

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[Insert your own caption here]

Wednesday night's game in the Carrier Dome between the visiting Providence Friars and the home Syracuse Orange had all the makings of a trap game. Providence is an annual cellar-dweller; Syracuse had already beaten the Friars on their home court; Providence has been playing well lately; all of Orange Nation was focused on the record-breaking crowd for the huge matchup Saturday against long-time rival Georgetown. Well luckily, not all of Orange Nation. You see, Jim Boeheim operates a game at a time, and he instills that in his coaching and the approach his players take. Boeheim I think did a great job coaching his squad for the Providence game, and it showed on the court. The Orange takes this one 84-59.

  • For the first ten minutes of this game, neither Syracuse nor Providence looked impressive. And then Syracuse went on a huge offensive run: they were hitting shots -- including threes -- the defense shutting down Providence, and creating turnovers which led to more Orange points. By the time the Friars picked themselves up off the floor, they were losing 43-16 and walking back to the locker room for halftime.
  • CJ Fair and James Southerland led the way for Syracuse with 20 points each. CJ was 6-10, 1-1 from three, and 7-8 from the free throw line. He also pulled down ten defensive rebounds for another double-double. James was 7-8, 3-3 from three, and 3-4 from the line. When you get players like CJ & James shooting that well, you know Syracuse will have a great game.
  • Michael Carter-Williams also had a fantastic game: 15 points on 5-8 shooting, 5-6 from the line, 12 assists, and only two turnovers.
  • Brandon Triche didn't have the monster game he had against Seton Hall the other night, but he still had a solid performance against the Friars: 14 points on 5-11 shooting, 1-3 from three.
  • The other scholarship players weren't huge contributors on offense, but don't question their contributions to this win. In particular, Baye Moussa Keita's 19 minutes hardly scratched the box score, but he was active on defense. Keita seems to be the better defensive player over Rakeem Christmas, but each was a presence under the basket and often times left the Providence offense wondering what happened to the ball.
  • Jerami Grant & Trevor Cooney both saw decent minutes, but this just wasn't their game. But that's fine, as this was a total team effort and everyone contributed in some way.
  • Speaking of everyone, Boeheim was able to insert the walk-ons with just over a minute to go; once Taco Time had been reached, of course.
  • That all said, Providence is a good team. They have good players and have won some games over some tough opponents this season. Wednesday night, four Friars scored in double digits. Of note, Vincent Council recorded seven assists and became the Big East's all-time assists leader. Not that Jim Boeheim cares, though...
  • This was another game where we heard the whistle more often that anyone ever wanted. It was a very inconsistently called game, varying from half to half. I guess that's what to expect in a Karl Hess game these days. Tim Higgins retires, and someone has to take over I guess.
  • The Carrier Dome crowd was rather small and rather quiet. Sure, they got loud and into the game during that first-half surge, and at the end when the walk-ons came in. It is what it is, but you'd like to see more than "23,717" at a Big East game.
  • It really wasn't 23,717.
Top to bottom, Syracuse played one of its best games in a while. All aspects of the game were hitting on all cylinders and against a Big East team, you can never let your guard down. Especially with the epic tilt against the Hoyas looming. The Orange::44 staff will be among Saturday's 35,012, and we hope you will be as well.

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Providence - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We beat them once on the road, so we have to at home.
Providence is a team, like UConn, with a pair of talented guards that can shoot the ball. They will be able to rotate the ball, drive and kick and get open looks. Bryce Cotton (20.4ppg) leads the league in scoring, and Vincent Council (9.5ppg) just set Providence's all time mark for assists. Both of these guards were able to score against Syracuse in the Dunk and they should be able to do it against Syracuse in the Dome. However, Syracuse was able to score to keep ahead in the second half at Providence. Syracuse should be able to do that in the Dome as they are scoring about 11% more at home than on the road. Syracuse will be able to dominate in the paint if Christmas and Keita can get aggressive. However, CJ Fair will be the star again for Syracuse. Southerland off the bench will also contribute several threes to balance out the scoring of Providence. While this will be another tighter than desired game, and Syracuse will have a few scoring droughts due to Providence's impressive and improved defense, Syracuse should keep the streak in tact, to have momentum rolling into the Georgetown game. The Orange will win by nine. This game is available nationally on ESPN 2 at 7:00pm.

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Orange::22 - 2/19/13

Not as fun if you have to talk about a loss.
Syracuse opened their 2013 lacrosse campaign with a loss for the first time in 17 years. I invited my friend Matthew McClusky (@MatthewMcClusky), writer for Nunes/Magician to join me to break it all down, give some perspective on the game, and what the bright spots were in this entertaining game. To stream the episode or to download it, just click here.

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A lot of fans looked like this during the last 10 minutes of this game.
Syracuse, as expected, handled the Seton Hall Pirates, probably for the last time. It was even the biggest crowd Seton Hall has had at the Prudential Center all time (mostly due to Syracuse fans). And while The Hall gave it a good college try, Syracuse was just the better team.
  • Obviously the star of the day ended up being Brandon Triche with a new career high 29 points on 10-18, 4-7 shooting, while being on the floor all 40 minutes. He recovered from several early missed shots to end u with a career day and keep Syracuse in the game when Seton Hall seemed to have momentum and close the first half defect Syracuse faced early.
  • CJ Fair came in second with 19 points and leading the team with 11 rebounds for another double-double. Still the glue guy.
  • MCW added 14 points, most of which came from the free throw line. He was 3-10 from the floor but 8-10 from the stripe. He also had nine rebounds but only three assists.
  • James Southerland had 11 points off the bench on 3-9 shooting from behind the arc and 4-12 overall. Not the worst day, but he hit the big shots in the second half when Syracuse needed them.
  • Keita, Grant, and Christmas might as well not have come off the bench. None of them really contributed that much, but Christmas added three points.
  • Syracuse had a spectacular game in terms of turnovers. They only had four in the game and only one in the second half. Brilliant. Seton Hall had nine.
  • While Syracuse was outshot from the floor by Seton Hall (43.2% to 38.7%), Syracuse did hit a better percentage from both the free throw line 69% to 58.6%) and the three point line (40% [8-20] to 28.5% [10-26]). Hall's three point shooting kept them in the game and gave them a nice early lead but Syracuse battled back.
  • Seton Hall actually had more assists (14) than Syracuse (13). Syracuse had not won a game on the road when MCW had four or less assists. He had three but Syracuse won the game.
Syracuse puts the Hall away one last time. Now Syracuse returns to the Dome for a tough two game stretch. But first Syracuse takes on Providence, a team that they beat in Providence, but not by much.

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Syracuse - Seton Hall Preview

Syracuse students agree: Seton Hall is not good.
Syracuse looks to end a three game road skid against 14th place Seton Hall in Newark. It should happen. I could end the preview here and just guess the margin but I'll give you your money's worth here. Fuquan Edwin (17.0ppg) is a big time player on a not very good team. So he clearly shines. After that, the talent level drops dramatically. Seton Hall leads the league in turnovers. Syracuse can really open this game up in transition, which is good because the long ball has not exactly come on the bus on the road for Syracuse. They should get a decent lead just from transition offense. James Southerland has been shooting well since returning, however no other player hit a long ball at Connecticut, and Triche was abysmal. Either way, Syracuse should rebound better as Seton Hall doesn't push the pace or have the talent to grind down Syracuse like UConn did. The Orange should win this one pretty easily in theory. On paper at least. This is the Big East so anything can happen, but Newark should have a ton of orange in the building and frankly may have the edge over Pirate fans. Either way, Syracuse will win this one by 17. This game will be available regionally on TWCS/SNY and on the internet at ESPN 3 if you aren't blacked out. It's at 8:00pm.

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You kinda wish Calhoun was at the helm for this one last game

Syracuse's participation in ESPN's "Rivalry Week" was Wednesday night's game at Connecticut, for the final time ever as Big East opponents. It is a rivalry game, for sure. Most out there, myself included, would rank the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry as bigger and more heated than Syracuse-UConn. UConn is a close second. There have been a lot of epic games in the past; notable recent games include the 2006 Big East Tournament win by Syracuse over then #1 UConn, and the epic 2009 Six Overtime Big East Tournament win by Syracuse over UConn. Unfortunately, Wednesday night just ended up being another game. Husky fans may see it differently, though, as UConn was clearly the better team out there that night, beating Syracuse 66-58.

  • Michael Carter-Williams was the offensive leader for Syracuse, scoring 15 points on 6-13 shooting, 3-4 from the line, but an 0-for from three. Though he had five rebounds and four steals, MCW only had one assist and turned the ball over four times.
  • James Southerland continued his good shooting from the St. John's game, scoring 14 points off four three-pointers. That was basically the extent of Southie's contribution, stat-wise. From a defensive standpoint, James adds the length on the wing that we unfortunately don't get from Jerami Grant or CJ Fair. Not to say they're not great defensive players, but the zone works the best when it's long and athletic.
  • Speaking of CJ, he had another 10-point game with five rebounds.
  • The rest of the team? Well, big goose egg pretty much. Brandon Triche I think gets the biggest glare from me, shooting 3-15 for a pitiful 20%. He kept on chucking up shots, including seven from 3, and they weren't going in (none of the 3s).
  • The team as a whole shot 35.4% from the floor, and 17.4% from three (23 attempts). The game was marked by a bunch of rushed, ill-advised shots. There were very few attempts to get the ball inside, which boggled my mind since Syracuse was the bigger team on the floor.
  • Officially, SU Athletics says Syracuse scored 26 points in the paint. That's either a flat out lie, or it just didn't seem that way. Either way, the game plan clearly turned into "shoot from the outside" first, instead of "drive the ball inside" first.
  • Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, and Shabazz Napier all played well for UConn. As did the rest of the team, really. We all thought that the absence of suspended center Enosch Wolf would be devastating for UConn, but they rose above it and clearly played better than Syracuse.
  • Rebounds were pretty even (UConn 38, Syracuse 36), and many other categories were either close or tied. I think the key was just the number of times Syracuse had empty possessions. They dug themselves into a hole they couldn't climb out of.
And so, that's pretty much all I want to say about that game. It's sad that things with UConn are over. We won't see them in the Big East Tournament or the NCAA Tournament this year due to their postseason ban. I'm sure they'll end up on Syracuse's non-conference schedule in the future, but it won't be a yearly thing. It's not the same without Jim Calhoun anyway. But who knows, maybe UConn eventually will find itself in the ACC. At any rate, we'll always have our memories, especially 2009.

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Syracuse - Connecticut Preview

Syracuse students agree: It would be nice to win the last one.
Syracuse travels to Hartford to take on the University of Connecticut for the last time as a member of the Big East Conference. While the XL Center is certainly not the best arena, it's as good a place as any (except for maybe Madison Square Garden where Syracuse has played UConn more than any other team in the league) to end this thing. Connecticut isn't eligible to be in NYC this year for the BET so this is guaranteed to be the final conference meeting between the two. And it should be a fun one. Syracuse has James Southerland heading on the road again, where Syracuse, on average, scores 14 more points with Southerland in the lineup. Syracuse desperately needed a more consistent outside shooting threat to not only pull defenders out, but keep Syracuse scoring when other teams gain momentum. What also bodes well for Syracuse is they are a better rebounding team. If Syracuse can get rebounds then they should win the game. UConn is 4-0 in Big East games when they outrebound their opponent. Attacking the glass is the key for Syracuse in this game. UConn is led by guards Shabazz Napier (17.2ppg) and Ryan Boatright (15.8ppg). While both players are good, and both are playing well lately, those caliber players should score a ton against Seton Hall, which they did. What is more telling is the fact that both players have struggled against Syracuse in the past, including all three games they lost to Syracuse last season. Moral of the story is that they will make shots, and rotate the ball to get open looks, making Syracuse defenders run all over the court to try and cover them. They will shoot a lot of 3s and if they make them it will be a tougher game for Syracuse than if they miss a whole bunch like they did last season. Syracuse allows 0.68 points per play, the lowest in Division 1. That will put the onus on Connecticut to score and keep scoring. What also bodes well for Syracuse is the Connecticut loss of Enosch Wolf who is suspended indefinitely with legal issues. That makes a thin bench for the Huskies. While I think UConn will be in this game in the first half, and maybe even take a lead into the locker room, I don't think they can sustain the continued outside shooting to be able to open the zone up and get easy inside looks. Syracuse should come ready to play and has the talent back on the court to put this game away in the second half. Initially I would have picked the home team in this one, but now that Southerland is back in the lineup and we have seen what Syracuse is done in the past two games in getting back to strong defense and, more importantly, good offensive shooting performances, I a picking the Orange. Syracuse wins this last conference match in Hartford by 13. This game is available nationally on ESPN at 7:00pm. While I don't think this game will go into overtime I kind of want to see it not only for old time sake, but to piss off the Carolina and Duke fans waiting for their game to start at 9. For one last time... UConn... U SUCK!

Also, check out my contribution to The UConn Blog's annual Syracuse Hate Week here. It's been a tradition so it's fitting that I'm there until the end.

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The Triumphant Return of Orange::22

It's baaaaaaaack...
While the Big East Basketball conference slate is still going strong, the Syracuse Lacrosse team takes the field for the first time in 2013 on Sunday. Therefore it's the return of my weekly Syracuse Lacrosse show Orange::22 on the Lacrosse Radio Network. It will be every Tuesday evening at 9:00pm. Last night we recorded our opening show for the season and Matt Glaude (@HoyaSuxa) and Ryan McDonnell (@RyanMcD29), both of College Crosse, joined me to preview the team unit by unit, talk about the Albany game, and NCAA lacrosse rules changes and notable games. Along the way there was a fire drill, several emergency vehicles, and lots of lax talk. If you like Syracuse Lacrosse, you'll enjoy this. You can stream the episode or download it here. Tune in next week for even more lax goodness.

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There were only a few puzzling moments from Syracuse in this one.
St. John's was in a tough position. They were playing a top ten opponent on the road in the Big East and without Steve Lavin on the bench. They gave it a good effort, but Syracuse could not be denied, especially with the return of key reserve player James Southerland, having had his eligibility restored. It was too much for the scrappy upstarts from Downstate. Syracuse beats the Red Storm 77 to 58.
  • Once again, the leading scorer for Syracuse was CJ Fair who had 17 points on 7-13 shooting and 2-3 from beyond the arc, both from the corner. He also pulled down nine rebounds while playing 39 minutes. He also had a pretty serious dunk that was called an offensive foul.
  • MCW also had 17 points on 6-9 shooting and 3-5 from behind the line. He had a really solid game overall including eight assists and six steals. It seems he has again struck a nice balance between scoring and assisting on scores. It helps with Southerland back in the lineup to take the pressure off him as well. He was also 2-2 from the free throw line.
  • Brandon Triche also had a nice day with 16 points on 5-10 shooting (2-6 long range). Additionally, he added five rebounds, seven assists, and was 4-4 from the free throw line.
  • James Southerland was a little shaky in his first half back after missing six games, but he made up for it in the second half and found his rhythm. He was 4-10 from the floor and 3-7 from behind the arc for a total of 13 points in 26 minutes of work. He also had two rebounds, assists, steals, and one block. Not a bad return for the team's leading scorer.
  • Baye Moussa Keita had the game Syracuse fans were yearning for while Southerland was out. He was 4-4 from the floor in 22 minutes, earning eight points, four rebounds, and two blocks.
  • Trevor Cooney was great defensively, but he still looks terrible on the offensive end. He played seven minutes and was 0-1 but had one steal.
  • Jerami Grant took a step back from his last game's big performance but still had a solid day, yielding minutes in favor of Southerland. He had four points, shooting 2-5 from the floor in 15 minutes.
  • Rakeem Christmas is still one of the best athletes on the floor but he also took a step back from his play in the Notre Dame game. He was 1-2 in 18 minutes, picking up two points, a rebound, steal, and block.
  • Syracuse shot a gaudy 53.7% from the floor, 45.5% (10-22) from long range. They also shot 9-10 (90%) from the free throw line. St. John's only shot 41.8%, 22.7% (5-22), and 7-10 (70%) respectively.
  • The referees let the kids play in this one, not calling anything ticky tacky or touch fouls. They only called actual body contact or charges. In reference to the charge on the Fair dunk, I do think CJ got beat to the position, but officials have to be weary of calling offensive fouls on players that are already in the air for a dunk. A defender should not be able to slip in and establish position when a player is going for a dunk already in the air to get a foul. Of course, this is the hardest call in basketball.
  • Southerland had one of the prettiest plays on the day getting a long pass from MCW, then dishing it with no look to Triche to finished with a dunk at the other end to really put away any momentum St. John's had built.
  • Syracuse had 12 turnovers in this game. That's a little high, led by three from Brandon Triche, but it is close to their average. St. John's had 16.
Syracuse remains the best basketball team in New York State and continues their win streak against St. John's. Syracuse has a bit of a quick turnaround as they now head to Hartford Wednesday to take on Connecticut for the last time as Big East members. Especially sad as there is no possibility of these teams matching up in the Big East Tournament in New York. Either way it will be a fun one, but for now it's fun beating that other pesky team in New York once again

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St. John's - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: NYC is STILL Syracuse country.
Is James Southerland playing today? According to Twitter he is. And the Post-Standard has confirmed it. Either way, Syracuse takes on a St. John's team that is last in the Big East in rebounding. They also aren't very good at shooting the long ball with the exception of star D'Angelo Harrison. However Harrison is the definition of a streaky player. He could rattle off five unbelievably long or impossible shots and miss the next ten. If Harrison is on, and he can be as he leads the team with 18.5ppg, Syracuse will have to respond. But again the good news is that Syracuse is a far better rebounding team (2nd in the Big East) than St. John's. If St. John's starts missing shots the game could get out of hand for them quickly. Syracuse has played far better at home than on the road. SU outrebounded ND, the opposing team for the first time in four games, and that is with a guy named Jack Cooley on the roster. They also shot 48.9% in that game. While Harrison probably will get around 15 points, so will CJ Fair. And probably Southerland will add ten off the bench in the excitement of being back on the floor in a game. St. John's is not a team that can bust the zone so look for them to really struggle in the first half, with Syracuse gaining a modest lead. St. John's should get a run going in the second half to close the gap, but Syracuse's transition game will definitely keep them in the lead. Syracuse, playing at home, against a team they have dominated for a good stretch, will play well. I'm picking the Orange to win this one by 16. This game is available on ESPN nationally at 3:00pm.

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Their Grant < Our Grant
Syracuse had a two game losing streak to break and a home court to defend. The Big East is always tough. This isn't new. So when you start losing games in a row in the league it can easily turn into a big losing streak. See Pittsburgh and Villanova last year, or DePaul every year. And with the added storyline of Grant v. Grant this was an interesting game for both teams to be in. But Syracuse came to play and their defense was excellent in the final Big East Big Monday in Syracuse. The Orange beat Notre Dame 63 to 47.
  • Once again CJ Fair led all scorers with 18 points. He also earned a double-double with ten rebounds. He was 5-10 from the floor and 7-8 from the free throw line. Again, he had a great game and is the most dependable player on offense.
  • Jereami Grant earned a career high 14 points on 6-8 shooting in 40 minutes of work. He also pulled down six rebounds and had one ridiculous block on ND's Jack Cooley to cap off his game.
  • Rakeem Christmas also had a nice break out game. He had 12 points on 6-9 shooting in the kind of performance Syracuse has needed the past two games. He also had five rebounds and four blocks.
  • MCW earned five points, making one of three attempted baskets. Because he didn't attempt as many shots he assisted on eight and only committed one turnover. He finally didn't force any ridiculous shots and he didn't have any mindboggling turnovers in this one. A very solid game for MCW.
  • Brandon Triche had the worst game of the starters only earning seven points, shooting 2-9 from the floor and 0-5 from behind the arc. He did have six assists and five rebounds however.
  • Trevor Cooney earned six points, going 2-6 from the floor and 2-5 from behind the arc. Just a standard game from Cooney, hitting a couple shots and that's it. He also played good defense for most of his time on the floor, only really getting beat once.
  • Baye Moussa Keita played four minutes and earned one point on a made free throw. He has yet to dominate a game this season, or even show a flash of offensive brilliance.
  • Syracuse shot 48.9% from the floor, far better than their previous two games. Dome sweet Dome. They also held the best shooting team in the Big East to just 34.6% from the floor. Syracuse shot 4-15 (26.7%) from behind the arc, but it would look better if you remove the five misses from Triche. Notre Dame shot 6-20 (30%) from behind the arc.
  • Syracuse caused 11 turnovers in Notre Dame, a team that averages a low nine a game. Syracuse had nine themselves.
  • Notre Dame only made 5-10 free throws. Syracuse did better, making 15-17 (88.2%), taking advantage of the charity stripe like they have most of the season, save for those Villanova and Temple losses.
Syracuse now has a long week off until Sunday night when St. John's comes into the Carrier Dome. As long as Syracuse plays at home I think they have a chance to keep this good offense going. Heading back on the road after could cause another stumble for this team. Also interesting to see if the Southerland situation stays the same as there is reportedly a hearing on the matter at Syracuse either Thursday or Friday. Not sure if we'll see him back on Sunday but it is something that we'll be keeping an eye on here at Orange::44.

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Notre Dame - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: Gotta protect the home court after two losses.
Syracuse has had a tough stretch. And frankly it's a refreshing change of pace to head back home into the Dome on a very Big Monday. What shouldn't be a tall task for a talented Syracuse team is with Notre Dame. They shot their season low at Villanova and then shot almost as bad at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Offensively Syracuse looks lost right now. The Notre Dame game plan is very simple as always. Jack 3s up and when they don't hit go to Cooley in the middle to force shots in. It's not very creative or good coaching, but it works when shots are falling. Notre Dame is the best shooting team in the conference so they will likely fall, but being as this is a road game it might be tougher. So they will go inside and get cheap fouls on whoever is covering Cooley. If the game is called like it was in Pittsburgh (that is very loose) that isn't a problem for Syracuse. If it is called a little tighter we could see some walk ons for some significant minutes. While I would normally go with Syracuse in this game, my confidence on their offense is shattered and until they can put together some solid offensive possessions in a game, especially down the stretch, I'm not taking them in any close game. I'll pick Notre Dame to end Syracuse division 1 best home win streak. Notre Dame stupidly winning by eight. This game is available everywhere nationally on ESPN at 7:00pm.

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Jim Burr: I don't know. Jim Boeheim: No shit!
Syracuse gave it a good effort, but Pittsburgh proved just too much for Syracuse. Or should I say, Syracuse didn't play up to the level they were capable of, and thus was vanquished by Pittsburgh for their second league road loss in a row. Syracuse was admittedly shorthanded, but in reality the depth of the bench wasn't the issue. It was the failing of the players on the floor to execute. That let Pittsburgh take a ten point lead at the final horn to win the game over Syracuse 65 to 55.
  • CJ Fair again led all scorers in this game with 20 points on 9-13 shooting, and 2-4 from long range. He also had three rebounds, three steals, and a block. He was again the best player overall on the floor for Syracuse and the most dependable offensive threat for the Orange.
  • Brandon Triche added 14 points on the day shooting 4-14 from the floor, and 0-5 from three. He was also 6-7 from the free throw line, his biggest asset. Triche was actually good in the last ten minutes of the game trying to get Syracuse back in the game, but it was really too little to late then. He lead the team with six turnovers.
  • MCW had 13 points on the floor on 3-12 shooting and 1-5 from the floor. He was also 6-7 from the free throw line. He only had three turnovers but it seemed like way more. He eventually fouled out. He had demonstrated over the last few games that he is more interested in trying to force shots and offense than distributing the ball and being a great passer and point guard. While it hasn't really cost Syracuse too much, it doesn't help when playing from behind.
  • Rakeem Christmas didn't attempt a shot in this game in 21 minutes on the floor. He had three rebounds and three blocks. At least he didn't hurt the effort.
  • Jeremi Grant started his first game of the season and it didn't go well. He was 1-8 from the floor, seeming to miss everything within three feet of the bucket. He had five points and five rebounds. He really forced several bad shots in this game and definitely didn't look confident like he has at earlier points in the year.
  • Baye Moussa Keita played 19 minutes and was 1-2 on offense. He head three points, three rebounds, and two steals.
  • The only other player to get into the game was Trevor Cooney. He also didn't attempt a shot but did play well on defense. He had one rebound and two assists. However, he foolishly ran into a defender for a foul instead of passing to Triche on a two on one fast break. He has to learn that making the pass is the better play there.
  • Syracuse shot 36.7% from the floor. Pittsburgh shot 48%. A stark difference there. The main reason Syracuse lost the game. Both teams only hit three long range shots, so the long ball was no effect on this game.
  • On the bright side, Syracuse hit 16-20 from the free throw line. MCW hit 6-7. Amazing how he hits the ones that don't directly affect winning a game.
  • Syracuse forced 19 turnovers from Pittsburgh, a team generally not prone to turnovers. Additionally, they only had 14.
  • Much hooplah was made from the media (read: Mike Patrick and Len Elmore) on the fact that Syracuse only played seven players. In general, that's all Boeheim has played this year. It was just Southerland instead of Grant or Christmas essentially. Only playing seven didn't affect the outcome of the game.
Syracuse now returns home with only a day of rest to take on Notre Dame, a team more up and down than the stock market and coming off an overtime win versus DePaul on Saturday. Should be an interesting one in a very interesting final year of Big East play.

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Syracuse - Pittsburgh Preview

Syracuse students agree: Always tough to head to the Pete.
I'll state right off the bat that Syracuse could win this game. This is a winnable game for Syracuse. Pittsburgh is not the hot dumpster fire they were last year in the Big East, but they are not the premier team in the league right now either. And the idea that The Pete is some unwinnable basketball Mecca for opposing teams has certainly been shattered, despite what Pitt fans may tell you. That notion was definitely shattered last year at the very least. But that being said, Syracuse is now down to seven scholarship players, and particularly thing at the four and the five spots with both James Southerland being ineligible still, and DaJuan Coleman being out for at least a month with a knee injury and surgery. Syracuse is going to basically play the starting five, and put Trevor Cooney in for the three guard lineup you saw at Villanova. Baye Moussa Keita will start at center, but if he gets even three fouls in the first half Syracuse is going to be in trouble. Pittsburgh doesn't have the dead eye shooters they have had over the last decade on a regular basis, so shooting over the Zone won't be the cure for Pittsburgh this season as it has been. Pittsburgh will have to make some smart passes and get into the zone and make some post moves. By now, you know that MCW will make some good passes, but cough the ball up a few times, CJ Fair will be dependable, and Brandon Triche will be able to score plenty. But Syracuse has been inconsistent in scoring and especially at free throws. This game will start slow for Syracuse, but it should be tight at the half. Then I think Pittsburgh will just outlast Syracuse in the end, but not by much. I'm picking Pittsburgh in the home upset, but only by five. This game will be available on ESPN at 12:00pm.

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