After Syracuse’s 66-60 win over 12-seed California Jim Boeheim and the Orange are back in the Sweet 16. The biggest concern is that the Orange could’ve run away with an easy victory and ended up only beating the Golden Bears by six. Once again, SU was unable to control the big man down low as Richard Solomon had 20 points and 14 rebounds. But Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe had only eight points.
That’s 17 Sweet 16 appearances for Boeheim, and while many of us thought it might be short stay in the Big Dance following the regular season, SU hoops is alive for another weekend. The Orange did a good job of jumping out to an early lead and making sure a pro-Cal crowd couldn’t ever get into it. Here’s our Fizz 5 takeaways from the victory.
- C.J. Fair stays hot
The junior forward was red hot in the first half, but cooled in the second. Fair finished with a team-high 18 points, 6 rebounds and two steals. He’s become the go-to player on this team. Need a basket? Give it to CJ. While James Southerland has the potential to go off for 30, C.J. has been the most consistent all-around player. Fair will be critical in a Sweet 16 matchup against Indiana or Temple.
Cal looked lost offensively for much of the night, shooting less than 40% from the field and a disastrous 4-21 from deep. Once again the zone perplexed an unfamiliar opponent. Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, was held to 3-for-9 shooting. The Syracuse defense also forced him to turn the ball over five times. Crabbe and Justin Cobbs were two of the most dangerous players for Cal, and both were hounded by the 2-3 all night.
- Big man factor
Baye Keita has become a comfortable insertion for Boeheim when Rakeem Christmas needs a breather. Keita 11 points and seven rebounds for Syracuse, and shot an important 7-of-10 from the line. Christmas chipped in five boards. Even Southerland grabbed eight rebounds.The work of the bigs on the glass was huge, and all three will have to do the same next weekend in D.C.
- Efficient three-point shooting
Syracuse can force the deep ball, and end up beating itself in the process. But on Saturday night, the Orange went just 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. Instead SU attacked the hoop. Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche combined for 20 points, but Triche needs to get his offensive touch back. He shot just 1-8 from the field, and MCW missed a handful of critical free throws.
- Must improve protecting possessions against tight defense
Just like the second half against Louisville in the the Big East Tournament, the press rattled Syracuse. When Cal made it a game late, tight, in your face defense led to sloppy SU ball movement. The guard play will specifically need to improve in the next round will need to limit turnovers. The starting 5 combined for 13 giveaways against Cal.
Posted: Austin Pollack