This is what today’s postgame feels like to me. SU took care of their biznesses. Cincy is a reasonably good squad, and they put up a good fight, but Syracuse was simply the better team, and their talent and skill won out in the end, as we all expected. I hate the cliché “Live by the 3, die by the 3″ but if ever a game called for it, this game was the one. UC had 31 points at halftime — nine threes, one layup (their first basket of the game) and two foul shots. They shot 19 threes and only 8 twos in the half. That’s pretty much unsustainable unless you are Samford — the only DI team that has attempted more 3s than 2s this season. And sure enough, in the 2nd half their offense reverted to form and SU laid a hammer on them.
As impressive as the defensive stats are — and holding your opponent to 3 points in the first 8 minutes of the game, and 0 points in the first 6 minutes of the 2nd half, is damned impressive — I’m more excited about how the Orange offense performed in this game. Cincinnati came in as one of the tougher defenses in the nation. Their opponents had shot 38.4% from the floor, 29.1% from deep, an only averaged 55.6 points per game. Even though UC hasn’t played many particularly good offenses, those are still excellent numbers. If you want to go “tempo-free” then Pomeroy calculated them as 15th in the nation in defensive efficiency, and 10th in effective FG% defense, going into this game. And SU — without their leading scorer for much of the game — put up well above 50% shooting in each half. Rick Jackson in particular seemed like he couldn’t miss underneath. He has had a bit of trouble finishing in the paint recently, but really adjusted well playing against UC’s sizable front line.
Nice contributions from all four freshmen today, particularly in Joseph’s absence. Boeheim didn’t want to have to put Jackson at center with Fair and Southerland flanking him, so it was a good thing that both centers came to play. But did anyone else wonder why Dion Waiters was on the floor for the endgame instead of Triche? It wasn’t as if Waiters was playing out of his mind — in fact, he had the ball stolen at least once and didn’t look all that comfortable against the press. And I didn’t notice Brandon making any particularly boneheaded plays that would earn him The JB Hook Of Death. Dion did play well, don’t get me wrong. But it was just odd to me that he would be out there at all, especially after his turnover. It was un-Boeheim-like.
Anyway, solid win. Taking care of biznesses. I will now officially get started counting down to the first Big Monday of the year. Pitt is a hell of a team. It’s SU’s first neutral-court game of the year (it’s not a true road game because Pittsburgh is only about 340 miles from Syracuse; Atlantic City, where SU played two home games, is 320 miles away). It should be another epic Big East battle. Let’s get it on!