Rick Pitino may get more national plaudits, but Jim Boeheim’s record against Slick Rick is a perfect 3-0 over the last two seasons after Syracuse escapes the Yum! Center with a dramatic 70-68 win. The Orange will likely take a few votes from Louisville, which had the #1 ranking before today. SU pulled it off without James Southerland, whose status is still up in the air. The game was somewhat reminiscent of the Orange’s win at UConn last year: a well played, back and forth game that ended with a Syracuse defensive stand and road victory. The obvious difference is that UConn was unranked while Louisville couldn’t have been ranked higher.
Brandon Triche saved SU’s ass. Let’s call it like it is. Without Triche’s scoring in the first half, SU might’ve faced a serious deficit at the break. He was everything, with 18 points in 18 minutes. He came out and grabbed the game by the throat, asserting himself from the tip, and silencing the crowd that was on fire.
Triche’s perfect half balanced Michael Carter-Williams’s dreadful beginning. BT was 7/7 from the field and 4/4 from three, and took the ball out of MCW’s hands. Carter-Williams struggled with the Louisville pressure, but Pitino was forced to adjust his defense that opened things up in the 2nd half.
MCW: A tale of two halves. Any reasonable basketball fan knew his play couldn’t possibly stay where it was to start the year. You just don’t average double doubles in college basketball. As the competition has ramped up, his numbers have predictably come down to Earth. But despite today’s first half, he’s still playing at a very high level.
His final line reads 16 pts, 7 assts, 4 rebs, 4 steals and 2 blocks to go with his 8 turnovers. Louisville puts a ton of pressure on the ball. That number of TO’s is inexcusable but despite the horrid start he made almost ever important play down the stretch, including the game winning steal and dunk to seal it.
Carter-Williams’s problem is he over dribbles. It’s the curse of a playmaker as good as he is. He wants to make a play every time and searches until he finds one or forces it. As he grows he’ll stop trying to make it happen when it’s not there, let the game come to him and the turnovers will drop. It’s a process, he’s started less than 20 games. Let’s talk again in February before freaking out over a bad half. 16/7/4/4/2 is a hell of bad game.
Over his 37 years on the hill, The Per’fesser has become notorious for his short rotations. After playing a ton of guys last year thanks to extreme depth, JB was back to his old ways without James Southerland. Trevor Cooney didn’t see the floor in the 2nd half and CJ Fair played all 40 minutes. Jerami Grant also played 35 minutes which would have been preposterous to think at the beginning of the year.
Grant was a steal. When he signed he was a 6’8” beanpole who many thought would be a redshirt option. Between putting pen to paper on his National Letter of Intent, Grant had a two-inch growth spurt and bulked up. Now he’s an integral part of SU’s rotation and as long as Southerland is out, his play will have a major impact on SU’s fortunes. He’s getting invaluable experience just like Fair and Kris Joseph before him. Just wait until he’s the man in a few years. He’s got uber potential.
See You in the ACC. It’ll take a few more seasons for the Cardinals to jump conferences, and Boeheim won’t likely be around to torment his protege when that happens. But it’s nice to know we’ll be seeing this rivalry continue on the court. The Yum! Center was rocking all day, and a Saturday afternoon matchup between two top 5 programs felt like the good ol’ Big East. Even though SU/Maryland would’ve been fun in the newly aligned ACC, knowing we have years left of Orange/Cardinals battles is good for everyone.
Posted: Craig Hoffman