There were twists, turns and big plays in the Syracuse’s dramatic win over Wisconsin here in Boston, but perhaps none more critical to the Orange than C.J. Fair’s steal and fastbreak dunk with 6 minutes left in the first half. It gave SU a 22-20 lead, but more importantly broke C.J. out of his March slump.
Mr. Do Everything had already missed a pair of free throws and looked lost on offense, but all he needed was the transition basket to get him going. He immediately became a different offensive player, perhaps best described by Scoop Jardine after the game:
“He got his powers back and I’m glad we’re moving on to the Elite 8.”
C.J. certainly did. The old school game of Fair led the team in scoring against the Badgers and provided timely buckets. He was especially dangerous on the baseline, knocking down a slew of important jumpers within 15 feet. He added rebounds and assists, playing one of the best all around gams of his career. Fair’s tentative nature vanished, and he attacked the basket repeatedly looking to get his shots.
Jim Boeheim said he never lost confidence in C.J. despite the struggles. Despite Fair hanging his head at times in the first two games and being extremely passive on offense, The Per’fesser didn’t give him the quick hook. He rode Fair him until he came up with big plays.
The win also showcases the depth of Syracuse, and the multitude of scorers that they have. In three NCAA Tournament games, SU has three different leading scorers. Remarkably, none of those have been either of the seniors or Brandon Triche. Not too many teams have a roster that could potentially have 6 different leading scorers en route to a title, but SU is certainly capable.
If C.J. continues to be aggressive on offense and finish around the rim it will add yet another element to a potent SU offense and could propel them to New Orleans. One more win is all that’s needed to send Boeheim back to the Big Easy. Old school indeed.
Posted: Alex Plavin in Boston