USA TODAY Sports
In front of an on-campus record crowd of 35,012 and a national television audience, the Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas met for the final time in Syracuse as members of the Big East Conference.
Unfortunately for the Orange faithful, SU ran into a one-man wrecking crew with a familiar first name and dropped a crusher to their hated rival, 57-46.
Here is my report card as I witnessed the carnage from press row. Much like a car crash on the interstate, I found myself unable to turn away.
Head of the Class
Otto Porter: Let’s go ahead and anoint Porter the Big East player of the year, shall we? In an evisceration not seen by an opponent at the Carrier Dome in some time, Porter torched the Orange defense to the tune of 33 points on 12-19 shooting (5-10 from three), along with 8 rebounds and 5 steals in a full 40 minutes. So yes, he scored only 13 fewer points than Syracuse did AS A TEAM. It got so bad that in the second half the crowd would audibly groan whenever Porter caught the ball wide open – well before he even raised up for the shot. I joked on Twitter before the game that some SU law grad should file an injunction to make Otto Porter change his first name. After his performance Saturday, we’ll be lucky if he doesn’t make SU change the name of their mascot to “George”.
C.J. Fair: Once again, Fair was the only bright spot in an otherwise frustrating SU loss. He notched a respectable 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks, and was the only Orange man to consistently be able to get into the teeth of the Hoya defense and get good looks at the rim. He continues to be the most stable SU performer game in and game out, and it will be a crime if he doesn’t end up on the all-conference first team at the end of the season (a la Rick Jackson’s snub in his senior year).
Stay After School
SU’s Offensive Execution: Clearly Big East teams have found a recipe for beating SU. Opposing defenses are happy to drop back (increasingly into a zone) and force the Orange to bomb away from the outside. Even with James Southerland back in the fold, that appears to be a winning strategy. SU shot a scorching 4-20 (20%) from three, and when they did try to get the ball into the paint they coughed it up 16 times. Oh, and they only had 8 total assists. I suck at math, but even I know a 1 to 2 assist to turnover ratio will get you run out of the local YMCA league… let alone a major college basketball game.
Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams: Someone needs to put out an APB on SU’s starting backcourt. In another case of “as the guards go, so goes SU”, Triche and MCW combined for a mere 17 points and 6 assists, while more importantly committing 7 turnovers and 6 fouls. I have said this before, but with the exception of Fair, SU’s forwards and centers rely on their backcourt to get them the ball in a position to score. The combination of Georgetown’s solid defense and SU’s subpar guard play made it difficult for the frontcourt to contribute offensively. On defense, Triche had an especially egregious brain freeze, fouling Porter on a wing three with about five minutes left in the second half that led to a 4-point play and slammed the door on any notion of an SU comeback.
Final Grade: D-
It was certainly a bummer to see SU drop such an anticipated game in an electric atmosphere. Coach Jim Boeheim and his players downplayed any nerves, instead theorizing that perhaps the Orange were too hyped up and tried too hard to play well in front of such a large crowd. The Orange will get a rematch with the Hoyas in D.C. on the final day of the regular season. Let’s hope they can get their revenge and close out this Big East rivalry with a big road win.
Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams speak to the media after the loss on Saturday: