Syracuse defeats Indiana 69-52 in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Here’s D.A.’s knee-jerk reaction:
-How many superlatives can you throw at the freshman Tyler Ennis tonight? On a huge stage he went for 17 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals. His tear drop in the lane was a thing of beauty all night, and he looked like the floor general everyone had hoped for when the season started. No matter what happens in March, it’s going to be a thrill watching him develop into one of the best point guards in the nation in his first college season.
-Trevor Cooney’s outside shooting will open up and space the floor for all the bigs, and is already paying dividends. He was the high scorer on the night with 21 points, on 5-9 from downtown. Dajuan Coleman, Rak Christmas, and C.J. Fair should all give him some dap for the lanes he creates with the long range bombs. Hard to believe he was once a project who had to be redshirted because there was no space for him on the team.
-And down goes another unsuspecting victim of the zone. The 2-3 held Indiana to just 36% shooting on the night, and for Syracuse to win this game in such impressive fashion says a lot about the balance of the Orange. The Hoosiers are not the same team as a year ago, they’re not nearly as dangerous. But it’s still a good win by SU.
-During the broadcast, ESPN touted the combined all-time wins between these two schools and labeled them “elite programs.” It’s an easy thing to take for granted now, but there’s a reason that court is named after Jim Boeheim. He created a program that is considered elite by any measure, and promoted as such by the most powerful sports entity in the country. His legacy lasts forever.
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The best thing about the ACC has been the early, challenging schedule.
Syracuse played No. 18 Baylor in the Maui championship game. It was a difficult game and not a blowout. And while the Orange has played easy opponents like Cornell and Colgate, tonight’s game against Indiana is a big test.
No. 4 Syracuse hosts unranked Indiana tonight in what is a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16. Syracuse won 61-50, but both teams have different talent this year. Syracuse no longer has Michael Carter-Williams, Brandon Triche, and James Southerland. Indiana no longer has Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford.
For Syracuse, the emergence of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis have perhaps made this team the picture-perfect ACC team of small guards who are fast and can shoot. C.J. Fair, Cooney, Jerami Grant and Ennis are the top four scorers on the team. Cooney and Ennis have been the most impressive. Cooney shoots 45 percent from the three and when he’s hot, Orange Nation loves it and he feels the love. Love makes him better.
Ennis is the freshman point guard who has come in and performed well in an offensive way, as opposed to MCW who did it with his defense probably more than his offense, at times. If Syracuse can beat Indiana in comfortable fashion, this is a team to feel good about down the road.
Yogi Ferrell is Indiana’s man. He averages 18 points per game and is a small, quick, scrappy guard who razzles and dazzles. The Hoosiers could easily be 7-0. They have 7-0 talent, but an easy schedule. They played UConn and lost by one. The rest of the schedule has been a piece of cake. They lead the country with 50 rebounds per game, so big men Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita and DaJuan Coleman need to be physically and mentally tough. Last year it was the shooting that hurt Syracuse; this year it’s the play down low. IU’s Noah Vonleh, the freshman, is the defensive leader, grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game. He can score too: about 13 points per game.
Syracuse weapons: Ennis, Grant, Cooney, Cooney’s three-point jumper, Jim Boeheim as the head coach, the 2-3 zone.
Indiana weapons: Ferrell, Vonleh.
Prediction: Syracuse gets the win, 68-56.
Posted by: Austin Pollack