Saturday, January 15, 2011

Syracuse Slays the Bearcats

Juli Boeheim had all the Jim Boeheim's she could handle on Saturday
The Syracuse Orange, playing most of the game without Kris Joseph, took care the Cincinnati Bearcats today in the Carrier Dome, winning 67-52.  Joseph left the game with about 6 minutes to go in the first half after taking a nasty spill and smacking his head on the floor.  However, the Orange rode another strong performance from Rick Jackson and got great contributions off the bench from James Southerland and Dion Waiters and took care of Mick Cronin's team.

Syracuse started the game with an 18-3 run, only to have Cincinnati make a barrage of threes to keep it interesting.  The Orange then started the second half with a 16-0 run and the game was interesting no longer.  But it was fun.  Here are eight observations on the game.

1. Rick Jackson is playing at a level that four years ago I never thought he'd reach.  In the first half especially he had a few Hakeem Olajuwon type moves around the hoop. Cincy had no answer for him. What isn't being talked about enough is his maturity. He picked up his second foul with about 13 minutes to go in the first half and Boeheim didn't even consider taking him out the game. He finished the game with 2 fouls. In college basketball today, if you have a senior that is that good, and has that much awareness, it's a luxury.

2. How about the job Jim Boeheim is doing? So far this might be the best coaching job of his Hall of Fame career. After the William and Mary game there wasn't a person on the planet - other than the members of the SU team, that believed they would be 18-0 right now.

3. Fab Melo had his best game as a collegian.  6 points and 4 blocks was unexpected.  Hopefully this game will boost his confidence and he can continue to be a factor in Big East play.  He combined with Baye Moussa Keita to block 7 shots.  Next year you take both of these guys with another year of experience, add in Rakeem Christmas and teams might not be able to score at all on SU.

4. While people focus on James Southerland's ability to shoot (and rightly so) I loved the energy he brought to this game.  He was very active on both the offensive and defensive glass, tipping balls, saving balls, hell he got his hands on more balls than Jenna Jameson today - and it made a difference.

5. Right now Cincinnati looks like a paper tiger. They still don't have any quality wins and unless they improve in a hurry, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up in the NIT.

6. ESPN's Jayson Stark brought up a great fact on twitter - Syracuse is now 48-5 last 2 seasons and it's the SU's best 53-game stretch in last 75 years. Pretty awesome.

7. Mick Cronin sounds like the name of a washed up 80s rock star.

8. Whenever I hear the word Bearcat, it makes me think of ManBearPig from South Park.  Cincinnati should change their name to that - I know Al Gore would approve.

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