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Andy Rautins Eats Your Turmoil Steak: No. 5 Syracuse 81, Rutgers 65

Andy Rautins has been in a bit of a slump lately.  Well consider the slump busted.  Andy put up LeBron-esque numbers last night (23 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals) to lead Syracuse over Rutgers 81-65 in the RAC, or as I and Andy Katz like to call it, Syracuse NJ.

"We got on their shooters and didn't let them get comfortable," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "I thought defensively we did a tremendous job."

Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine both finished with 12 points for Syracuse, while Wes Johnson contributed 11 points -- surpassing 1,000 for his career -- and pulled down 10 boards.

Jim Boeheim's word on the night?  Aggressive.  Especially when discussing Andy.

"Andy was aggressive tonight," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "He really was. He was very aggressive against the zone. He was shooting threes in transition. He made a lot of plays. He had a big game. Steals. Assists. He was much more aggressive today."

The Orange had this game in the bag when the first quarter half ended.  And maybe that's why Rutgers stormed back and got back in the game in the 2nd half.  18 turnovers certainly didn't help matters. But Syracuse had something Rutgers didn't.  The Mookpocalypse.

On Wednesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center, the SU guard played a season-high 22 minutes and scored 11 points. He made half of the six 3-pointers he attempted...But Jones announced his presence in other areas of the Orange’s 81-65 win over Rutgers.

He grabbed four rebounds, one of them a fairly significant snatch of a missed Scoop Jardine free throw when the Scarlet Knights made something of a second-half run. He made two steals, at least one of them coming off a trap that he and Jardine built on the Rutgers sideline. And he authored an alley-oop pass to Wes Johnson that provided one of the more striking moments in the game.

Mike Waters talks about Tom Brady at Michigan when he talks to Mookie about how to prepare for the future.  If Brady was sulking and complaining on his Twitter feed back when he was a back-up at UM instead of preparing for the future, maybe he wouldn't have become the QB he is today (who is not as good as the QB he was four years ago...sorry).

Jimmy B states it plainly.

"I thought Mookie came in and gave us a big lift," SU coach Jim Boeheim said. "He’s been playing much better. I thought he had a tremendous first half."

Usually by this point in the recap we've talked about how good Wes Johnson did.  Wes had some moments but good shots were few and far between last night

"I guess it was one of those nights when my shots weren’t really falling for me,’’ Johnson said. "So I just went out there and tried to rebound and do other things.’’

Wes did get another double-double (yawn) and crossed the 1,000 point mark, putting him within striking distance of Leo Rautins (1,031), who, in case you didn't know, is Andy Rautins' father.  (I know!  Why doesn't anyone ever mention that???)

One problem that Boeheim, amongst many others, can take issue with from last night.  The big men. AO and Rick Jackson combined for a mere eight rebounds and got beat underneath by guys much smaller than them all night.  Wa'happun?

When asked whether he was unhappy about the play of his two big men, Boeheim replied, "I would say that’s a good analogy. Or is that a good deduction? I’m not sure. There wasn’t much to be happy about. When 6-foot guys are making layups against you, you’ve got a problem.’’

RickJack specifically didn't look sharp all night. The Orange won the rebounding war (35-31) but it shouldn't have been that close.  Brent Axe goes to town on the big men (nh), who haven't been playing quite as they should for a while now.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Despite their physical stature and the 1-2 punch they could be, these two don't play like they own the paint. They just aren't aggressive enough. A.O. got very aggressive on one play late in the first half and was charged with an offensive foul. It was over at that point. You could see him back down and dreading the tongue lashing from Boeheim on the bench. Some will blame Boeheim for being too hard on these guys and yanking them out of the game too much when they make mistakes. I'm not one of those people. I can understand the frustration on Boeheim's end.

Not too much time to work out the kinks as the Orange travel to No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday for what will likely be their toughest test of the season to date.

Syracuse beats Rutgers