The Syracuse Orange defeated the St. John's Redstorm 76-59 in SU's home* arena, Madison Square Garden. After a slow start offensively, the Orange put together 30 minutes of excellent basketball, pulling away from an improved St. John's team that never got close to SU in the second half. When you can end a Big East game with Brandon Reese on the floor, things went your way. Here are six observations on the game.
1. The Orange appeared to be sleep walking through the first 10 minutes of the game. I thought the tempo and sense of urgency picked up when James Southerland and Dion Waiters were inserted into the game.
2. If Rick Jackson could face the basket and make 15 footers he'd be a candidate for National Player of the Year, because that's the only part of his game that's missing. Think about it, if he could stick the 12-15 footer in the lane, you add about 6 points a game to his scoring average. Combine that with ridiculous rebounding numbers and excellent defense and that's the kind of stuff the national guys go nuts over. The guy is having a monster year.
3. Brandon Triche's early season struggles are long forgotten and while he's now sticking open threes with regularity, his best play of the night was in the second half when he shot faked a three, took 2 dribbles, pulled up and absolutely buried a 15 footer. It's a textbook play made by a guy who is really confident in his shot.
4. Including tonight Syracuse has held 12 of its 17 opponents to 60 or less points. The 2-3 zone is an absolute beast this year.
5. The Scoop and Kris Show isn't just a series of videos posted on Syracuse.com - these two guys, along with Rick Jackson and Brandon are carrying this team. Scoop has found a nice balance between being aggressive and running the team and his 30 foot bounce pass to Joseph for a dunk in the second half was as pretty a pass as you'll see. For Kris, the game is moving slower now. He's more confident in his role as the top guy and he's struck his own personal balance between playing under control and being aggressive.
6. Gene Keady's hair is more disturbing than ever. Check it out, via @akschaaf
* Per edict from national basketball "experts" every game played in the State of Syracuse is a home game.