That was more like it. I was getting so used to watching this team win, that I forgot what a loss felt like. Then when it happened, I almost forgot what the feeling of a win was like. Syracuse was able to take a punch early on from Cincinnati (no pun intended, Yancy Gates) and move on to a 60-53 win.
With Dion Waiters having arguably his worst game of the season, Scoop and Brandon really needed to step up, and they did. Joseph was a true star in the second half of the game, to go along with Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche as the leaders for the Orange in this game. Joseph lead the Orange with 17 points on a very efficient 8-11 shooting. With the game still in doubt with about 10 minutes left, Scoop Jardine took control. It all started with a simple, yet perfect pass to James Southerland for a dunk down low. When Scoop just does the simple things during a game, and not try to be the star, he is at his best and coincidentally becomes the star out there. Scoop had 13 points 6 assists, and the most important stat: 0 turnovers. This is what was missing in the game against Notre Dame. Triche had a very Brandon Triche like game finishing with 11 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, and 4 steals. The difference in Brandon’s game tonight was the agressiveness that so many SU fans want to see out of him. The Big East, and the rest of the country, better watch out if that continues. If this team wasn’t already real good, that can only make them better. Scary, I know.
With the uncertainty surrounding Fab Melo and whether or not he will be eligible the rest of the year has left a lot of Cusenation with nightmares. What Rakeem Christmas did tonight should help ease some of those fears. Rakeem had his best game of his very young college career, and was a key to the victory. Rak only had 4 points, but he chipped in 9 rebounds and 3 blocks and was a force down low that was not there against Notre Dame. I believe this will be Rak’s coming out party, and we will start to see more games like this one. It really looked like he finally had that fire in his eyes that Boeheim has talked about. As a McDonald’s All American, we all know he has the talent, but after tonight’s performance, hopefully Rak continues to build on it and improve from here on out. If these kind of games continue, I believe that Rak will start to take a lot of Baye Keita’s minutes as the back up center. Rakeem seems to look a lot more comfortable playing the center of the zone than he does playing the wings.
This was a huge win for the Orange. I will fully admit, going into this game, after watching what happened at Notre Dame, and coming off a quick turnaround, I was not feeling very confident. When Cincinnati got off to its hot start hitting 3’s from Kentucky, my confidence continued to drop. The difference tonight was that the Orange finally had a decent game in a half court setting. They used the pick and roll to perfection as Cinci was not getting around or hedging on SU’s screens and they were able to take advantage of that in their half court game.
I believe we will look back at this game and see it as a turning point. It was the game where the Orange faced adversity, and unlike the Notre Dame game, was able to punch right back and show its toughness in earning a win. This team has all the talent in the world, and now I believe they have finally got “it.”