In perhaps its biggest game of the season, the no. 2 Orange trailed 25 – 7 to the no. 8 Wildcats almost midway through the first half. All signs pointed to Villanova crushing SU and for the program to drop its first game of the season. Not quite the outcome, as Syracuse erupted with a 20 – 0 run to overcome the large deficit to beat ‘Nova 78 – 62.
The quick hitters from Saturday’s win:
Trevor Cooney continues to wow SU fans. For the seventh time this season, the redshirt sophomore swapped at least five three-pointers in a single game. Cooney finished with 21 points on 5 of 8 shooting from deep. He’s arguably the Orange’s X-Factor heading into ACC competition. Cooney scored 11 of the 20 SU points on the scoring run in the first half. Recall how often Cooney was criticized and questioned last season for his streaky performances. His hot start has shocked the fan base. Syracuse needs him to continue to get open once conference play begins.
Nova’s 3-pt shooting went from wishful to woeful. The Wildcats got off to a fast start thanks to their sharp shooting. They began the contest four of four from behind the arc, but finished the game 10 of 31. Thirty-two percent shooting from deep doesn’t sound bad, but the quick outburst should be noted. Guard James Bell knocked in 6-of-12 from three.
When the pressure mounts, Tyler Ennis is calm and cool. Ennis entered Saturday off back-to-back two turnover games against St. John’s and High Point. The freshman sensation columned a goose egg against Villanova and also scored 20 points in the victory. He logged just one turnover against Indiana and none against then-no. 18 Baylor. Nothing has extremely fazed Ennis early in his young career. If his strong ability to protect the rock translates to ACC play, Ennis undoubtedly has a shot at Rookie of the Year and keeps Syracuse in serious contention.
Front-court struggles continue from last season. Around this time last year, it had to be noted how ineffective the play of Syracuse’s bigs was. Dajuan Coleman and Rakeem Christmas combined to play 21 minutes Saturday. Together, they totaled just three points, four rebounds and a blocked shot. When will the big man production ever resurrect for the Orange. Most Syracuse fans have moved on from Rak becoming a dominant inside presence. But many thought Coleman would emerge this season. Thankfully Baye Moussa Keita has stepped up off the bench for the most part. It’s not panic time yet, but Boeheim and company should at least be concerned with the frontline. Adjustments need to be made.
The nation’s biggest on-campus crowd was on hand despite no students. 28,135 fans filled the Carrier Dome to witness these former Big East partners do battle. Pretty impressive stuff to have this many fans even when the students are on break. Obviously no one predicted this game to be a battle of unbeaten and a top-10 matchup. The surrounding towns and cities of Syracuse have some dedicated fans that still help the Dome remain a powerhouse and a special venue to play in.
A quick turnaround for SU as it hosts Eastern Michigan on New Year’s Eve to close out its non-conference schedule. A 12 – 0 start is awfully good, but now as the new year approaches, Syracuse becomes really tested once ACC play begins.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen