Dion Waiters described his attempt to miss a FT at the end of the Cincinnati game as “awkward.” The idea was that SU could tip in the rebound and tie the game. But awkward could really apply to the entire night. There are so many odd moments it‚Äôs tough to figure where to begin, but the only place to start is the start.
- Cincy’s Red Hot Start
Cincinnati came out on fire. The Bearcats couldn‚Äôt have started hotter in large part because the Orange challenged shots like it was still warmups. SU seemed content running back to the layup line, unfortunately the game had started. That was enough to get UC on a roll. If this was NBA Jam, the ‚Äúon fire‚Äù meter was already full. Eight three-pointers later, the Orange was down 17. It was the biggest defecit of the season. Yet, just like all year, SU was far from dead.
- Syracuse Pushed, but the Bearcats Answered
About 10 minutes into the first half, Jim Boeheim called his 2nd timeout and everything changed. There was a new sense of urgency led by Brandon Triche (who along with Dion Waiters played at a high level all night). Unfortunately, every time SU was ready to make its run, Cincinnati answered with a big shot to keep its cushion. The Orange pushed but the Bearcats answered. Syracuse needed to make a huge stop. It never did and¬†the normally steady Triche clanged two huge free throws late.
- The Per’fesser’s Faith in Scoop Burns Him
In a season where Jim Boeheim has been marvelous, he questionably subbed in Scoop Jardine with 5 minutes to play when Syracuse had the momentum. The senior PG immediately turned it over, and UC was able to hold off SU a little big longer. Jardine eventually rewarded his coach‚Äôs decision with a big three-pointer, but 5 turnovers from the floor general is simply unacceptable. No one needed to tell Scoop that. He knew. He just couldn‚Äôt stop it. Neither could Kris Joseph who had an equally dreadful night (outside of a big trey late).
- So Close, Yet So Far
Despite a combined 9 turnovers from the seniors, SU was just shot or two from pulling it out. If James Southerland goes 2-7 instead of 1-7, it may have been a different outcome. If the refs didn’t miss roughly four goaltending calls. If Scoop and Kris had been just a hair better. Like any close game, there are a million of them. But these if‚Äôs blatantly hit you in the face.
Afterward the Orange kept things in focus. Boeheim and the players said winning this tournament was never the goal. Waiters said ‚Äúwinning the Big East don‚Äôt mean nothing at all. We‚Äôre trying to win the NCAA Tournament. That‚Äôs the main focus.‚Äù
Posted: Craig Hoffman