On Sunday, Syracuse beat St. John’s 68-63 in Madison Square Garden. Tyler Ennis thrived in the victory, and CJ Fair provided scoring and veteran leadership down the stretch. The Fizz takes a look at the five keys to yesterday’s win.
1. Tyler Ennis
It cannot be overstated how important Tyler Ennis is to the Syracuse Orange. He may not be the most talented freshman in the country, but he is probably the most important freshman to his team. Simply put, the Orange go as Tyler Ennis goes. Yesterday’s game showed that perfectly, Ennis had a great first half and the Orange had a 12-point halftime lead. Ennis began to struggle in the second half, and so did the Orange. When the Orange started to pull away in the last four minutes, Ennis played better setting the floor for the Syracuse offense and getting to the free throw line. Ennis finished with 21 points, six assists, and most importantly, just two turnovers.
2. CJ Fair
Fair came up big for the Orange all game and he was the go-to scorer for Jim Boeheim following the under-four minute timeout. After the game, Fair told the Fizz that Boeheim didn’t specifically tell him he needed to be the scorer, but he did draw up the plays that would get him shots. Fair dropped 21 points and as a senior, he stepped up and made plays when the Orange needed it most: tied with under four minutes to go in the game.
3. Points in the Paint
The Syracuse big men still struggled. Rakeem Christmas tallied eight points, Baye Keita had none, and DaJuan Coleman scored four points. Coleman played just 10 minutes all game, but was able to grab four rebounds to go along with his four points. After the game Boeheim said the team needed more of an inside presence, so why did Coleman only play 10 minutes? DaJuan was successful in his time on the court, making his only two shots, but then was taken out 1:47 into the second half. Thanks so Ennis, Fair and Jerami Grant, the Orange put up points in the paint, but Boeheim needs the bigs to step up and score in the post.
4. Syracuse Needs to Adjust to Fouls
A lot of questionable and borderline fouls were called in yesterday’s game. The Orange kept its composure, and played through the refs. Many times soft contact fouls were called and they were called late once the refs saw whether the shot went in or not. The Orange did a good job not overreacting to the calls, like St. John’s coach Steve Lavin did at times, and kept playing its game. Good teams can work around calls made by the referees, but the new emphasis on contact is something Syracuse still needs to adjust to.
5. That is a Game Good Teams Win
Madison Square Garden may have felt like a home game in the past, but yesterday the ratio of Syracuse to the St. John’s fans was closer to equal. Even though Syracuse fans still likely out numbered St. John’s fans, the Red Storm students were loud especially when the St. John’s made a run in the second half. The Red Storm is a good team with high-level talent. And the Orange had a tough task in the second half to overcome the Red Storm talent and the loud environment to get the win and head back to Syracuse undefeated.
All in all, big win for the Orange, who got nothing from Trevor Cooney or the big men down low and overcame a big Red Storm push to move to 10-0 and remain a top-three team in the country.
Posted by: Seth Goldberg