Usually this season, the Syracuse Orange play a close first half and then go on some kind of run right before or right after the half to break things wide open and cruise to victory.
Against the Marquette Golden Eagles, Syracuse jumped the gun, going on a 19-0 run midway through the first half to take a commanding 37-19. That led to a second half in which the Orange withstood the Great Three-Pointening while Fab Melo spent significant time on the bench with four fouls and eventually won the game, 73-66.
The big question before this game was what Syracuse would do if its frontcourt was without Fab Melo for an extended period of time. Now we know. Rebounds will be tough. However, things won't fall apart. Baye Moussa Keita stepped up when its mattered most.
Kris Joseph had 17 points and three steals. Brandon Triche added 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals for the Orange. C.J. Fair donated 13 points and eight boards for Syracuse, which got 12 points and seven assists from Dion Waiters.
C.J. Fair is fantastic. That's apropos of nothing, I just wanted to note it at this point.
Melo, who eventually fouled out, scored six and grabbed eight boards in 18 minutes of action. Baye had four points, two blocks and five rebounds in decent mop-up duty. Melo also deserves kudos for drawing four charging fouls in the first half. Dude keeps impressing.
James Southerland (2 points) and Rakeem Christmas (0 points) saw limited action while MCDubz didn't even make it onto the court in this hotly-contested Big East battle.
Darius Johnson-Odom ended with 19 points for the Golden Eagles (12-4, 1-2), who fell to 1-8 all-time versus the top-ranked squad in the country. Jae Crowder and Junior Cadougan had 15 and 10 points, respectively. Crowder also did his best to shush the crowd late (literally), but it wasn't enough.
Believe it or not, Syracuse out-rebounded Marquette 43-36. I guess I'll believe that. I was sure that the only player on SU that had any rebounds was Triche and I was pretty sure he had 47. I was off slightly.
Syracuse is now 17-0, 4-0 in the Big East. With Georgetown and Louisville losing today, they're the last-remaining team without a Big East loss. 17 wins are the third-most to start a season under Jim Boeheim and moves us that much closer to the 19-0 record.
The announced crowd of 25,412 was the biggest-yet of the season, though the UConn game should obliterate that mark. Up next, Villanova on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Wildcats are reeling but every game is a dogfight in the Big East. Even the ones involving cats.