Saturday, December 28, 2013
Syracuse Beats Nova
Syracuse and Villanova met for the 71st time this afternoon, and the Orange displayed some championship caliber basketball in winning the game 78-62.
Syracuse looked to be in trouble early as Villanova was hitting all their three point shots and Syracuse was struggling to find an offensive rhythm. The Wildcats went on a run and led 25-7 with 11:00 minutes to go in the first half.
Syracuse would turn the game around at that point with some smart offense and hard nose defense, going on a 20-0 run to take the lead 27-25. It started with Trevor Cooney getting an open look and hitting a 3 point shot, and when Tyler Ennis made a layup with 4:52 to go in the half, Syracuse had the lead. Villanova would tie it up at 27, but when Cooney made another three to put Syracuse up 30-27, the Orange would never relinquish the lead again.
This game showed an great gut check by the Orange. They never panicked despite falling behind by 18 points to a highly ranked team, instead methodically played their game and worked their way back into the game. Tyler Ennis had another excellent game at running the offense; he had only two assists, but logged another game with no turnovers. The young man knows how to protect that ball!
Trevor Cooney came up big when he got going. I was getting frustrated early in the game as it appeared that Cooney was never going to get open, shades of the St. John's game earlier this season. But Cooney kept his movement going, and the Orange helped with some screens, and Cooney would hit five of eight three point shots he took.
C.J. Fair had another solid game; nothing singularly outstanding, but he kept the offense flowing, kept the defense honest, and made some clutch three point shots to make the Wildcats pay for leaving him on the perimeter.
A big key for this game was the re-emergence of the Baye Keita that we have known that past few seasons. He was hustling around the court, making some crucial rebounds and creating a noticeable defensive presence. He displayed an outstanding high post pass to Michael Gbinije beneath the basket to help fuel the second half, and another nice perimeter pass to Trevor Cooney for one of Cooney's treys.
DaJuan Coleman appeared to be limited by an injured knee; I hope that does not come back to hinder his season as the Orange do need their three headed center of Coleman-Christmas-Keita. Jerami Grant had another solid game; he didn't have any highlight real plays like we have become accustomed to, but he did make 11 points.
Overall the Orange hit 29 of 35 free throws, which could have given Villanova a chance if they otherwise had missed.
I keep waiting for a quality opponent to stifle Tyler Ennis, but it has not happened yet. The young man is having an amazing season running the offense for the #2 team in the country.