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Jerami Grant was everywhere - including the floor

Syracuse has never played against California twice within less than a nine month period. In fact, Syracuse had only played California two times before: 2009 at the 2K Sports Classic, and this past March in the NCAA tournament. So all of a sudden, Cal is a frequent opponent (if you consider three meetings in four years frequent). At any rate, this game was for the right to play in the Maui Invitational title game. The Orange got some good news before tip-time, when Cal announced that Richard Solomon would not play, after having been on the business end of an eye poke the night before. Good news, because Solomon did a number on us back in March. This game evolved much like Monday's game: a lot of back and forth in the first half, and an eventual pull-away by Syracuse in the second. In the end, Syracuse beat California 92-81 to advance to the title game.

  • 92 points of offense means something was clicking. A lot of players contributed a lot. Let's highlight a few of them:
  • Leading scorer was point guard Tyler Ennis, who had a career high 28 points on 9-12 shooting, 2-3 from three, and 8-8 from the foul line. I mean, good God! And it's not like he was a ball hog either.
  • Trevor Cooney continued his nearly unconscious shooting, finishing with 23 points on 7-11 from the floor, 5-8 from three and 4-4 from the line.
  • Jerami Grant had a great game off the bench: 19 points on 7-11 shooting and 5-6 from the line in 28 minutes. Though he had probably the best dunk on the season thus far for Syracuse, he gets the dubious honor of being the only Orange player to miss a free throw in this game. More on that in a minute.
  • How would CJ Fair play after getting stitches in his cheek? Turns out it was a pedestrian 14 point performance. The 5-17 from the field is what doesn't give you the warm fuzzies. It's OK for him to have an off-night from time to time (and given his effort on Monday, we'll let it go) -- as long as others step up like Ennis and Cooney did.
  • What are we getting from Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman? Why are they still starting? Wouldn't it make sense for Grant & Baye Moussa Keita to start instead? Not that I'm suggesting Jim Boeheim do this, lest he go on a rant about how he must not know anything about basketball. But, just some pre-Thanksgiving food for thought.
  • On a bright note, 23-24 is the stat of the night. 23 made free throws on 24 attempts. This stat doesn't belong to the Boeheim on Basketball instructional video from more than 20 years ago. That stat belongs to the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team in Maui against California. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
  • Cal actually out-rebounded Syracuse 30-26.
  • Cal committed 13 turnovers, leading to 19 Syracuse points.
So Cal gets to play in the third place game, and Syracuse gets to play in the title game. We're all OK with that. And it looks like it's the Baylor Bears waiting for Syracuse at 10pm Wednesday night. For all the leis, all the luaus, all the mai tais, all the blue Hawaiians, all the poi, all the volcanoes... I'm done here.

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