It was fair to question whether or not Mookie Jones would even make it to Friday's game against Columbia. The sophomore was seen pouting during the Cornell game and he even left the bench of his own accord at one point, only returning after he was talked to by assistant coaches. Jones then took to his social media outlets to vent his frustrations over playing time and his perceived place on the team.
Wes Johnson connected on 4-of-5 shots from beyond the arc and finished with a game-high 26 points, as No. 10 Syracuse dominated Columbia, 85-60, at the Carrier Dome.
Arinze Onuaku and Mookie Jones chipped in 12 points apiece to the balanced attack, and Rick Jackson donated 10 and nine rebounds for the Orange (6-0), who have won their first six games this season by an average of 25 points.
Jones acquitted himself on the court but still left a lot to clear up off of it. He spoke with Donna Ditota after the game to clear the air.
"It was a little painful," Jones said. "I was here all summer working on my game. Sometimes I get a little frustrated. I handled it in a bad way by walking off the floor. I turned my back on my team. But I came back out and showed good sportsmanship in a way.
"But it’s been painful. I just played in Madison Square Garden, the California game. Got in early the North Carolina game. Thought I was off to a better start. I guess I kinda jumped the gun. I saw like the last five minutes (of the Cornell game) and kind of felt, like, disrespected in a way. So I wasn’t really feeling it. But I just gotta build confidence in Coach, show him that I can be out there and that I can play."
There is something refreshing about hearing a player speak so freely. Then again, as a role player on the bench under a coach who notoriously uses small line-ups, Jones has to know he does himself no favors by doing so. Jones says he and Boeheim have had an airing of the grievances and are moving forward. It remains to be seen how Jones reacts the next time he doesn't see much playing time.
CuseOrange thinks its way too soon for SU to give up on Jones. Statistically and physically, he's playing the same way Andy Rautins did at his age. And look how Andy turned out...
Perhaps the only person who benefited more than Mookie from the cupcake opponent was Wes Johnson.
In just his sixth game with Syracuse, Wes Johnson scored a career-high 26 points against Columbia. But Johnson’s career night includes his two seasons at Iowa State.
He bettered that a week ago with 25 points against North Carolina at Madison Square Garden and raised the bar again on Friday against Columbia. So much for the expected rust after sitting out last season following his transfer.
"I’m just having fun and everything else is flowing," Johnson said. "Right now, I’m back to my normal self."
Oh and Andy Rautins had five steals. He's among the national leaders in the category. When did this happen? Who is this guy?
Watch the game highlights here and then check out Wes, Mookie & KrisJo talk about the game.
|Syracuse vs. Columbia Basketball: Players Johnson, Jones and Joseph|