Syracuse Orange 57 - Clemson Tigers 44
Syracuse used a big day by C.J. Fair and support from the rest of the starting lineup to put away Clemson en route to a 23-0 start. Clemson was led by junior forward K.J. McDaniels, who put up 19 points and grabbed 10 boards, but no other Tiger broke into double digits stats (including scoring).
As we've seen all year, the Orange's stifling defense forced Clemson into a slow and deliberate offensive attack, limiting the Tigers to just 44 points on 41 shots and 34% shooting. Syracuse was much more productive with the ball, shooting 44% while maintaining a consistent 6+ point lead for the entire game.
Orange fans are seeing a rejuvenated C.J. Fair, after his Notre Dame hangover caused by a blistering Duke performance. C.J. ended the day with 19 points on 8-13 shooting, and helped himself to 7 rebounds. Fair was buckets all day, as he took good shots and made good decisions with the ball. C.J. is putting together a tremendous year, and we are seeing him turn the corner towards regular 20-10 games when the pace allows it.
Jerami Grant is starting to seem very comfortable in his role with the Syracuse starters. It's hard to believe he was coming off the bench earlier in the year. Grant started the game with a wild backwards layup, and wore many hats while putting together 12 points and 8 rebounds. While Jerami is still trying to figure out his outside jumper, his interior game remains impressive, and is a reliable post scorer for a team that desperately needs it.
*Mortality Starting to Show*
This Syracuse team gives you the feeling that at any game they can fall back down to earth. Baye Moussa Keita left the game with a knee injury, forcing Rakeem Christmas to play a smarter and less aggressive game than he usually does. Christmas had a tough time adapting, and picked up his fourth foul with almost 10 minutes remaining in the game and limiting himself to 6 points and 4 rebounds. For the first time this year, Jerami Grant had to move back to the center spot, with Keita and Coleman both on the bench with injuries. Tyler Roberson and Michael Gbinije rounded out the forward position and were very serviceable, especially on defense.
Tyler Ennis had a solid, but unremarkable night with 6 points and 5 assists. There is no need to worry about TE, PhD, as he knows how to pick his spots, and didn't need to switch on that second gear tonight. Trevor Cooney also cooled down from his scorching performance against Notre Dame, settling for 11 points on 3-7 three point shooting. Cooney added 3 steals, 2 assists, and 4 rebounds, staying active.
Clemson's K.J. Daniels gave a spirited effort with an all around offensive attack, however the Tigers just didn't have enough weapons to combat their first look at Syracuse's vintage 2-3 zone. The Tigers dropped to 6-4 in the ACC, and 1-2 against top 25 teams.
The refs were consistent, fair and quiet, and both teams finished with 11 or less total fouls, and only Rak was tagged for 4 fouls.
The ESPN announcers were typically solid, but you can get the sense that any announcer would love to call Syracuse's first loss this year. There was nothing to be seen here, as Syracuse handled Clemson fairly easily.
A quick note about Syracuse's pace of play. Pundits love to point to Syracuse's extremely slow game pace numbers to show that Syracuse is a different offensive team. These slow pace stats are purely a result of the Orange's suffocating defensive performances, as teams are forceds
Clemson travels to Notre Dame on Tuesday, while Syracuse takes on Pitt at the vaunted Peterson Event Center on Wednesday night for Rivalry Week. This being a daunting 8 game stretch with 5 road games including @ Pitt, a big rematch @ #11 Duke, and also a match @ #20 Virginia who is 10-1 in ACC play.
Great win by Syracuse as they move to 23-0 for the 3rd time in ACC history. Not bad for their first year. Until next time, LET'S! GO! S! U!