The greatest trick Fab Melo ever pulled was convincing the world he wasn't very good.
All apologies to the storybook ending that many people were hoping for, but St. John's has lost twice this season at the Garden and both of those games have been to the home team, Syracuse. The Orange moved on to the Big East semis with a 79-73 victory over the Johnnies, shuffling loose the curse of the double-bye and ensuring* themselves at least a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Orange will face-off against the other hot team in the Big East, the UConn Huskies, who shocked the Pitt Panthers thanks to a Kemba Walker buzzer-beater.
We begin and end with Fab Melo. In the first half, I was getting excited watching Fab play defense. I was all set to write a piece tomorrow on how Fab will win multiple Defensive POY awards by the time he's done here. He was altering every shot that came his way and throwing his body around the right way (that sounds weird). I figured he'd remain under the radar and my article would be this really avant garde post that would raise eyebrows.
Now? Everyone and their mother is going to write their "I knew all along Fab Melo would do this" article. (I'm looking at you, Pat Forde).
You could writing off the DePaul game as an inferior opponent but Fab has now put together consecutive solid games with double-digit scoring. And he did it this time against a ranked team in the Big East Tournament. 12 points, 5-5 shooting from the field and 4 boards to complete the package.
An how bout that reverse lay-up to wrap things up?
Triche led the Orange in scoring almost by default. He scored 22 but it was an extremely erratic 22. He shot 5-13 from the field and 4-10 from beyond the arc. Still, he was clutch when he needed to be, especially at the line.
Kris Joseph provided 14 points (but could have done more) while Rick Jackson supplied 10 points and nine boards (and a whole bunch of bad passes) for the Orange. Waiters and Scoop chipped in with ten each.
Loved the hustle from C.J. as well, who grabbed many an errant rebound and made seven total.
And so we move on. It's UConn tomorrow at 7pm EST. Not bad considering how the first half ended. The Orange continue to impress and have made-good on that early-season ability to play tough in the second half. There's no reason they can't win the Big East Tournament...they just have to go do it.