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On paper, Villanova was to be Syracuse's toughest opponent: #8 in the country, also coming in with an 11-0 record, with big wins over schools like Kansas and Iowa. In reality, when Villanova is beating Syracuse 25-7 just nine minutes into the game, that toughness has manifest itself. That was the situation the Orange faced on Saturday in front of nearly 30,000 fans in the Carrier Dome. And what happened next was nothing short of incredible. That 18-point lead became 15, 14, 13, 11, 8, 5, 4, 2 before Syracuse evened the score with 5:36 to go in the first half. That's an 18-0 run, which eventually became a 26-2 run as Syracuse took a 33-27 lead with 3:00 to go. Taking a 38-34 lead into halftime was a blessing for the Orange, and they would never relinquish that lead in the second half, putting down the Wildcats 78-62.

  • The usual suspects stepped up to provide the offense for the Orange: Trevor Cooney led the way with 21 points (5-9, 5-8 from 3, 6-6 from line); Tyler Ennis had 20 points (6-14, 8-11 from line); CJ Fair with 17 (5-12, 2-3 from 3, 5-6 from line); and Jerami Grant with 11 points (2-7, 7-8 from line).
  • No other Orange players scored in double digits; in fact, the only other contributions came from Michael Gbinije (4), Rakeem Christmas (3), and Baye Moussa Keita (2).
  • Tyler Roberson played four minutes.
  • Rebounds were at a premium for both teams; no player grabbed more than six, and Syracuse won the battle 33-28.
  • Villanova, as it is wont to do, attempted 31 shots beyond the arc. While hitting those shots helped them build that 18-point lead early, not continuing to hit them ultimately cost them the game.
  • Contrast that with Syracuse's 13 attempts -- seven successful -- while also getting the ball inside. The Orange had 27 points in the paint, to Nova's 10.
  • Syracuse shot extremely well from the foul line -- which proved important to seal the victory late in the game. 29 made on 35 shots.
  • This has already gotten some attention elsewhere, but it's worth a mention here: Tyler Ennis had zero turnovers. This is quite impressive for a freshman running point against some tough Villanova guards who are known for creating turnovers.
While that might not have been the worst start to a game I've seen from Syracuse, it was certainly one of the more impressive comebacks, especially to go on and eventually win by 16. A 34-point swing. The Wildcats are a good team; it's just that their game plan to try to beat Syracuse didn't work, and Syracuse was able to play its type of game and fight it out for another win. It was a great cap to an already good weekend, as the football team had just won the Texas Bowl on Friday night. A great time to be an Orange fan, for sure!

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