With Kris Joseph's Big Head staring back at him from the crowd, the sophomore stepped up when the Orange needed him most and, along with Arinze Onuaku, they led the Orange to a commanding 85-68 victory over Providence Tuesday night.
Joseph scored a career-high 23 points to go with seven rebounds, while Onuaku logged 20 and seven for the Orange, who shot an eye-popping 57.6 percent from the field. Brandon Triche netted 15 points in the rout.
Syracuse pounded the ball inside during an 11-0 run early in the contest, as Onuaku bookended the spurt with a pair of layups, the latter giving the hosts an 18-8 lead just over seven minutes in.
"We needed to get the ball inside. Arinze [Onuaku] was really active out there on offense and defense tonight. Especially defense - he was the most active he's been all year," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "Kris [Joseph] has been playing extremely well all year and teams that extend their defense give him an opportunity to get to the basket."
In the first half, the mission became very clear. Feed AO...he's hungry.
"I just think he went out there and got sick and tired," Jackson said. "He wanted to show everybody he can score. He can do that a lot. He can be a big threat in the Big East."
"I thought AO was really active on offense and on defense tonight," SU coach Jim Boeheim said. "I thought he was the most active he’s been all year. That’s a huge key for us going forward. I don’t think that he’s been having the kind of year that we need from him. He was really active tonight."
While AO's offensive output was certainly the most-welcomed, it was Kris Joseph's that was the most needed. Especially after Wes Johnson took the mother of all monster-spills. That sound you heard, after the thud of Wes awkwardly hitting the floor, was every SU fan's heart hitting it immediately following. (Audio of Wes describing the play). Wes didn't play much longer as the injury continued to bother him. Enter Kris Joseph, who's killer instinct will be counted on every game next season.
"I feel like everyone had to step up a bit, but especially me," Joseph said. "I had to try to bring something that Wes does. I had to do what I always do, but just do a little extra because I knew we lacked a little bit of what Wes brought to the game."
After the game, Johnson said he was fine and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said his star forward could have gone back in the game if needed.
But with Joseph slashing to the basket or filling the lane in transition, the Orange could keep Johnson safely on the bench.
And so, the Orange are indeed 22-1. It is the best start in school history. Think about that for a second. Think of all the great teams that have come before this one. Think about the how this year's schedule is not the cupcake factory that some schedule have been in the past. Think about the expectations that went into this year...and realize how ridiculous that is. As Brent Axe reminds us, tthe cliche police would be quick to point out that "it's not how you start, it's how you finish." But stil...
For the Syracuse Basketball fan, it will hopefully be the start of many more milestones to come this season. Hearing they are off to the best start in program history will validate what many think of this team and intensify the dreams of getting to Indianapolis that are growing by the day in Orange Nation.I'm not the only saying or thinking out loud on that subject by the way. With all due respect to Jim Boeheim's comments after the game that we "shouldn't listen to what players say", some players talked openly after the game about having a stated goal of winning the national title, which kind of bucks the "one game at a time" line they are supposed to give you.
The Orange is 22-1 . . . and rolling, rolling, rolling. And Keno Davis thinks it's No. 1...Bud Poliquin
Syracuse Pounds Providence 85-68: Video Smorgasbord...Jameson Fleming
INSIDE JOB: Powered by Onuaku's 20 points, Syracuse dominates weary Friars...Conor Orr, D.O.
Friars prove no match for No. 3 Syracuse...ProJo
Friars Tucked - Orange Roll to Victory...Three Idiots on Sports
SU off to best start in program history...Daily Orange
Joseph does his part for SU...Watertown Times