It's become cliche at this point to say of a real sporting event that the video game has decided you're going to lose this one. Maybe it's cliche but sometimes it just feels true. Between the three-pointers that could not miss, seemingly one-sided calls and bevy of annoying white guys on their roster, it really did seem like the Stanford Cardinal were destined to beat the Syracuse Orange in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off finals Friday night.
Dion Waiters, Brandon Triche, Kris Joseph and C.J. Fair decided against that, however, and the Orange survived with a 69-63 comeback win that tested the character of this Syracuse team and proved their mettle (boxscore).
Joseph scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds en route to a Tournament MVP award. His two-game total was 38 points and 19 rebounds.
Scoop Jardine scored 14 points while Brandon Triche added 11 and Dion Waiters & C.J. Fair each ended up with 10.
It certainly didn't seem like SU was on going to end up with their sixth-win of the season in the first half. Despite only trailing the Cardinal by one at the half (25-24), the Orange looked pretty abysmal. The Orange shot 35 percent and went 11-of-31 from the field. If not for Fab Melo, who seemed to be involved on every single play en route to a four points, six rebounds, three blocks and three steals first half, SU could have been way out of it.
Melo finished with six points and nine boards. And he's going to have to keep that Melohawk he's got in place moving forward.
Once again, Rakeem Christmas, Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland saw very limited action. It looks like they will indeed be the odd men out as the rotation tightens up. Southerland's playing time drop has been a bit shocking, given how well he was playing heading into this tournament.
Baye Moussa Keita only saw six minutes of action but was limited by four fouls.
For all that talk of a 9/10-man rotation, it looks like Boeheim is starting to settle in to his usual seven-man rotation with the two freshmen and Southerland ending up on the bench. Still a lot of basketball to play, though.
With UConn's stunning loss to UCF, the Orange should move up to No. 4 in Monday's polls. I say should because the team behind us, Duke, had a pretty impressive week as well. We know which way Dick Vitale will lean, the question is whether or not most voters go with him.