What Investigation? Fizz 5: Triche, MCW, & Defense Help Syracuse Bag the Grizzlies

The Orange played like it had not a care in the world as it took down Montana easily.

Syracuse spread the ball around and found strong play from almost every player in the lineup in its 81-34 win over 13-seed Montana. The win sends the Orange on to face 12-seed California Saturday. MCW had nine assists and Rakeem Christmas put up nine points and four rebounds. CJ Fair came out strong, scoring the first six points for Syracuse. Midway through the second half, Brandon Triche actually had more points than the entire Grizzlies team. Here’s our Fizz 5 takeaways from the victory.

  • Everyone was involved

Syracuse got production out of every player. It wasn’t just Fair or James Southerland. This was a team effort and it started with defense. The Orange outrebounded Montana 38-28. Triche led the way offensively and defensively with five steals and 20 points. Even Rak Christmas got in on the action. One of the fears going into the tournament for the Orange was the lack of a strong big man down low to grab rebounds and score. Christmas hasn’t been able to do that consistently but he played well in the first half.

  • Brandon Triche is back

When Syracuse lost four of its last five games in the regular season, Triche seemed to be invisible. He had absolutely no impact in the games. Performances like he had in the Big East tournament and what he showed against Montana suggests we may have the real Triche back. If he isn’t able to be effective, this team will not go far. He needs to be a major scoring factor. We saw that on Thursday night, and it looks like he doesn’t want his SU career to end quietly.

  • Defense wins games

While the offense for Syracuse was incredible, it was facing a low-major school. So 81 points isn’t a huge surprise, although it sure feels good after the disgusting outputs against the Hoyas in the regular season. Did Montana play poorly or did Syracuse play really well? Montana is a very strong shooting team and has players who know how to score. Syracuse was able to stop scoring attacks from the Grizzlies and that Orange defense can help it win games in March.

  • NCAA investigation

This is the second year in a row Syracuse has been hit with a potential NCAA issue the day before the first game of the tournament. There was speculation how this would impact SU, but Jim Boeheim said his team was focused on Montana and nothing else. Would that really be the case? Guess so. Syracuse absolutely dominated Montana and by the look of the game, one would never even know there is an investigation going on. Nice job by Syracuse to put it behind them and focus on winning the game instead of what is going on behind the scenes. It wasn’t a distraction that affected the court.

  • Michael Carter-Williams had better ball handling

MCW’s struggles to control the ball was a major factor in Syracuse’s losses late in the regular season. His turnovers were costly and he didn’t know what he was doing when defenses attacked him. Thursday was a better night. MCW only had three turnovers, and the Orange only turned the ball over nine times. Remember when he was the NCAA’s assist leader? That changed once the Orange entered Big East play. MCW’s nine assists brings back memories of his domination in non-conference play. As long as Syracuse isn’t playing Big East powerhouse teams (other than itself) or top ranked teams, it has a chance for success. If the top teams in the region like Indiana fall, that could lead to a Syracuse-Miami Elite 8 game.

Posted: Austin Pollack

6 Comments on this Post

  1. @ Austin;

    After listening to the pundits on television earlier in the week tell us how Montana was going to beat Syracuse,I got worried and lost sleep wondering what they were smoking out there in San Jose.

    Syracuse looked good lastnight. The inside players looked like they were possessed and I hope they keep up the intensity so that when they play Indiana they can win and move onto the FINAL FOUR.

  2. We stop Cal’s 1 good guard, we stop Cal. Whats his name, Crabbe? Our guards need to shut his stuff down.

  3. Defense was unreal last night. So many swatted passes and smothering shooters beyond the arc.

    I hope they keep that up more than anything.

  4. Yes, they (Media and Internet) talk about SU chances against Cal, but the are reflecting greatly on the investigation as well. JB to them is on a tight rope now. But also they seem to say wait and see. No matter what happens this is no good for the other programs at SU. JB has lost the program and all he does is throw out his chess and flips the bird to the media, if they question him. He’s probably told to be quiet, but not argumentative!! This isn’t good either. At a time when SUFB, Women’s BB and Lax are coming around it could effect talent and their choosing SU. If this investigation and it is a witch hunt(well sort of)after all is said and done then JB can have his word. What happens if they find a violation of some kind no matter what size it is?? Will he mend up?? I doubt it!!

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  6. @Terry;

    Great weekend to be a Syracuse sports Fan and here’s why.

    Womens Basketball Team(ranked(21st/22nd)starts the competition at 11:20 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament against Creighton.
    Mens Lacrosse Team(ranked 4th)travels to Villanova to take on the Wildcats in a Big East Game.
    The Womens Softball Team plays a double header against Harvard this weekend in the Dome.
    The Mens Basketball Team faces California in the 2nd round of the Mens NCAA Tournament. I hope they play as well as they did against Montana.
    Finally we have a big football weekend with some highly sought after recruits on campus for their official visits. lets all hope that Coach Shafer is successful in bringing them here to play.

    When you look at the whole picture,how if your a Syracuse Orange Fan,don’t you think with weekends like these that make you proud to be a part of the OrangeNation program? I know I’m excited.

    GO CUSE;

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