Syracuse 78 - Villanova 62
This was a textbook Syracuse victory, using a total team effort to overcome an 18 point first half deficit. As we've seen all year, C.J. Fair and Trevor Cooney provide the 1-2 scoring punch, with Tyler Ennis and his ability to change the flow of the game proving the difference. Villanova played scrappy, Big East basketball adding another chapter to this epic rivalry.
High energy, physical basketball between two ranked and undefeated powerhouses produced a great game that will benefit both teams throughout the upcoming conference play. Villanova came out hot and hit their first 4 three pointers and multiple jump shots to grab an early 25-7 lead, before Syracuse responded with a 20-0 run to grab the lead for good. The Orange held the lead throughout the second half, and after the Wildcats cut the margin to 2 points, Syracuse ran away with key play after key play in the final minutes.
The Big Three
Fair, Ennis and Cooney have become as consistent and reliable as the USPS. Cooney lead with 21 points off 5-8 three point shooting and a nail-in-the-coffin 4 free throw technical to finish the game. Ennis added 20 including 8-11 FT shooting, but yet again his total control and confidence with the ball was the key to victory. CJ added his mundane 17 points and 6 rebounds and was able to show up on a couple key series.
Cooney started slow, but finished the first half and the game strong, helping in big part on the 18-0 run to tie the game at 25. Save one turnover, his solid ball handling helped Tyler maintain the poise that the Orange needed to keep focused. CJ had some trouble with the ball today with 5 turnovers, which is becoming expected of him. He has 35 TO this year, and the person in second on SU has 13.
The X Factors
Jerami Grant continues to find himself exiled to this section, as he is barely missing the leap to the top three. He put up 11 points and six rebounds on 7-8 Free Throw shooting. However, Grant's energy and interior presence become the difference maker in these tight, physical games. If he finds a jump shot or a different drive move, he will be a force.
Baye Moussa-F***ing Keita returned with passion, showing his defensive lockdown and added a big tip-in to take the lead for the first time. In a game where Christmas was quiet, and Coleman barely left the locker room. We needed BMK to be... BMK.
The officiating was subpar for most of the game, as they missed several calls and called several misses. While it was inconsistent, it was unbiased and only benefited 'Nova slightly, so it did not impact the outcome.
The attendance of nearly 30,000 was active and loud all game, showing off the Syracuse fanbase on national TV, even causing some technical issues with the audio. Too bad I couldn't be there due to my holiday travels, as this will probably be in the top 3 attended games at the dome this year.
The game was covered by CBS which, despite their inability to provide a decent NFL experience, provided a very good broadcast. They tried their hardest to mess it up, with halftime coverage by Doug Gottleib and Seth 'Montana' Davis, but they kept their commentary to a minimum.
The Syracuse Orange will finish their Non-Conference slate against Eastern Michigan on 12/31 before kicking off ACC play vs Miami on 1/4. Eastern Michigan feature a couple former Orange in Coach Rob Murphy and Reserve Maypole D'ashonte Riley, and are the only team to play as much 2-3 defense as SU.
Stay tuned, as I am working on a full Report Card for this great Orange Team which will be released at the end of conference play.
Until Next Time Fellow Juicers. Let's! Go! S! U!