The Orange continues to roll, this time splattering the Marquette front court in a 76-71 win at the Dome.
How about these numbers for one of the more dominating insides ever to play for The Per’fesser:
Syracuse more than doubled up Marquette in rebounding with a 46-21. The Orange outscored the Eagles in the paint 56-22.
The Eagles Jimmy Butler could walk into Faegan’s and punch a hole through any Sig Ep frat boy. He’s 6’6″, 215. Yet Butler was outmuscled in the lane by 6-9, 261-pound Arinze Onuaku and 6-9, 240-pound Rick Jackson.
Butler was priceless after the game. “I mean, I’m height-big, but I’m not going to say I’m weight-big. They were just big. You know they’re big when they’re giving Lazar (Hayward) problems down there. You can definitely tell when you’ve got two guys like that in the paint challenging your shots and having to guard them on the defensive end. It’s really hard.”
Butler sounds like a possum that just got drilled by a semi on I-81. That type of production (and matchup problem) from the front court, combined with the commitment to defense has set this Syracuse team apart from its predecessors.
Boeheim has always been blessed with athletic, explosive wing players. But how many Orange squads used brute force as their go-to move? You might have to go back to the Coleman/Seikaly days to find an SU team that thrived because of their interior play.
Once again, the Orange couldn’t quite close. A 17-point second-half lead was eventually pared to four. Like The Fizz documented last week with late errors in Morgnantown, you can’t help but worry this team will have a nine-point lead over Texas in the Elite 8 and then watch the Longhorns come streaking back to win.
But with the number-one ranking in the RPI and just one loss through late January, typical Syracuse paranoia will have to wait for another day.