Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nichols Nets 37

Syracuse held of a last minute surge from St. Johns to win 76-74 in a “must win” scenario for the Orange. Having gone 1-3 the four games prior to today’s game, I think they need to finish the regular season 6-0 (short of having to run the Big East tournament… again!). That would make the Orange 7-3 in their last 10 regular season games. They dug themselves a deep hole, and need to climb out of it.

Demetris Nichols was the hero of the day, putting up a career high 37 points on some outstanding shooting. 14 of 24 from the floor, and 7 of 13 from three point range. Probably more impressive for Nichols was that he pulled down 10 rebounds.

Nichols effort was the best for an Orangemen since Gerry McNamara torched Davidson for 38 in December of 2005. It was the most points ever for an Orangeman in a Big East game, breaking the previous team record held by Hakim Warrick. And the 37 point effort is tied (with many) for 17th place on the all-time Syracuse single game scoring list.

An interesting side note was that Nichols only made two free throws. The last Syracuse player to score 37+ points with two or less free throws was Dennis DuVal, who scored 37 against Bucknell on January 23, 1974 on 18-30 shooting, with 1 free throw.

Andy Rautins had a big day too, scoring 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three point range (5-7 from the field overall).

This years team has been one of the better Syracuse free throw shooting squads. Yet today, they went cold, 12-23, missing 11 free throws. The culprits? It was not the usual suspects. Darryl Watkins and Terrence Roberts shot a combined 7 of 11 from the free throw line.

Nope, the culprits were the free throw sharpshooters. Rautins, Eric Devendorf, and Josh Wright shot a combined 3 of 10 from the free throw line. Ouch. I do not think we will see that often.

Devo had a poor shooting day, but kept his finger off the trigger, going one for four, and a total of four points. I was concerned that he was shooting poorly and had four turnovers at the half… but he turned it around in the second half, played solid with his ball handling and ended up with 9 assists.

St. John’s is a team Syracuse should have buried. But it was good to see that they were able to come back from being down in the second half, and then hold off a late Red Storm charge. It’s also good to see that Nichols kept shooting down the stretch, and that Devo and Wright recognized that Nichols was the man to give the ball to.

It’s a win. A big one at this point.


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