Did you know this was Syracuse's first true road game since 1842? If they're all like this, I look forward to our next one in 2107 when we play Remulak Tech on Rigel 7.
This past week has seen a lot of people talking about the No. 1 Syracuse Orange. About their worth as a No. 1. About their historical inability to play "true" road games. About everything swirling around them in the Bernie Fine allegations.
This Syracuse team proved to the nation, their fanbase and to themselves that none of that stuff matters once they step on the court. All they do is take care of business and they did that Saturday, topping the N.C. State Wolfpack 88-72 in Raleigh (boxscore).
First of all, that 23-0 run at the end of the first half was the most fun I've had watching Syracuse basketball in a long time. I was watching the game in a sports bar with only my Hefeweizen to keep me company and I was openly fist pumping, flailing my arms with every three-pointer and saying "YES!" and/or "BOOM!" out loud with reckless abandon. I was that guy and I was damn happy to be him.
I think it's time we officially say it. This is Dion Waiters' team. He might not be the leader, so to speak. He's not necessarily the guy who is going to take the final shot. However, when the game starts and he has the ball in his hands...it's his team. He sets the tone on both ends of the floor and Syracuse is a better team when he has the ball at the top of the key. Dion's 22 points was well-earned. Let's just hope that cockiness doesn't get the best of him at some point.
As for Scoop Jardine, I hate to sound like a broken record with him but I can't help it. I am TERRIFIED every time he is standing at the top of the key with the ball in his hand. He might end up swishing a three or making a great play. He also might make the most "Scoopid" turnover you've ever seen. Pretty sure he did both at least five times last night. I love Scoop as a personality. I love him as a team leader and motivator. I hate him as our point guard. Scoop had 16 points to go with his 4 turnovers.
Kris Joseph is the sneakiest star that I can remember in the SU pantheon. I seriously forget about him for long chunks of time, wonder what happened to him and then realize that he has 21 points. I honestly don't remember half of those points.
C.J. Fair continues to be the guy behind the guys getting it all done. He's Mr. Intangible and he's Josh Pace 2.0. It just seems like whenever the team needs a boost, a key rebound, a defensive stop or some quick points, he's the guy who gets it done. I cannot wait for upperclassman C.J.
James Southerland? James Southerland. Don't need to say anything else.
Fab Melo had one of those games where he didn't put much on the stat sheet but he was a solid presence down low. He was giving the Wolfpack center fits in the 2nd half as well. Plus, the #MeloHawk is starting to morph into some kinda of weird #MeloMullet. It's fantastic to watch.
Michael Carter-Williams, thanks for showing up. Please work on your free throws, young man.
I thought NC State played well and shot the lights out from three for a good chunk of the game, always our death-knell. We should have known as soon as we saw they had a lanky, nondescript white guy chucking the ball from 40-feet out. The crowd was loud at times but quiet when their team fell behind and you could hear the SU fans clearly on TV. Great showing by our fans on the road...guess we should do this more often.
The game itself felt like a first-round NCAA Tournament game to me. The lower seed fed off the crowd energy and jumped out to a nice lead, hitting every conceivable three-pointer they could muster. Then the high seed remembered they were the high seed and took back the game. The low seed came out in the 2nd half with adjustments and re-asserted themselves before the high seed finally put it away and strolled into the victory.
Syracuse is now 11-0 and will retain the top spot in both polls on Monday. After a big lay-off last week, they jump right into things this week when they host the Bucknell Bison on Tuesday and the Tulane Green Wave on Thursday. With that, the non-con schedule will be complete and we'll be off to Big East play.