The Orange lost a big lead to St. John’s in Madison Square Garden, but pulled out the win with C.J. Fair.
Syracuse beat St. John’s 68-63 in its return to Madison Square Garden as an ACC school, its unofficial home away from the Carrier Dome for decades. The Orange was in control throughout the first half. DaJuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas were able to score down low, and Syracuse got to the basket with ease. Tyler Ennis dominated the first half with 13 points, three assists and just one turnover.
In the second half, the Red Storm came out firing. Coleman played just 1:47 at the beginning of the half. Ennis didn’t play as well, turning the ball over a few times. Cooney didn’t attempt a shot and C.J. Fair didn’t score as well as he did in the first half. Add the nerves inside Madison Square Garden, the Orange saw a lead – once as big as 13 points – vanish. St. John’s came out of halftime with a lot of energy and played much better than it did in the first half.
After the game, Jim Boeheim talked about the struggling interior play. Boeheim said that Coleman started well but then got into foul trouble and played poor defense. That said, Coleman had four points and four rebounds in the limited playing time he got, giving the Orange the low-post presence it needed.
Boeheim was very high on Fair and Ennis after the game. He said Fair has become the top man on the team, and opponents knows that, yet Fair is still able to put up points. Boeheim said the team would be 7-3 at best if Ennis played like a typical freshman and not how he has played so far this year. Boeheim also said that Ennis could be the best freshman point guard he has ever had, adding, “I’ve had a few pretty good ones.” Some pretty high praise from a Hall of Fame head coach who rarely throws around compliments to freshmen.
Ennis and Fair both finished with 21 points. Fair came up big knocking down a few jumpers after the under-4 timeout to get the Orange the lead. And today proved once again that the Orange will only go as far as Ennis takes them. In the first half, the freshman was phenomenal and the team had a 12-point lead at the half. But Ennis struggled for much of the second half, and as a result so did the Orange.
But Syracuse finished strong, closing out the Red Storm and moving to 10-0 on the season. It was a battle down the stretch, but after the under-four minute timeout, Syracuse started to pull away. The Orange rode on the back of ACC Preseason Player of the Year Fair, who hit big buckets when the Orange needed them most. Fair finished with 21 points and really led the Orange down the stretch to a nailbiting 68-63 win over St. John’s.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg