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Escape From Morgantown: Syracuse 72, West Virginia 71

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Lots of griping after Syracuse's nail-biting win over West Virginia on Saturday.  But here's what you have to remember...

1. Syracuse won.

2. On the road.

3. In front of a hostile crowd.

4. Against a good Big East team.

5. Ranked in the top ten.

You have to remember those things because two months from now, that's how the NCAA committee is going to look at it on paper.  Which is a good thing.

It wasn't pretty and thanks God there wasn't another ten seconds on the clock, otherwise Syracuse's 72-71 win over West Virginia might have turned out a little differently.

Freshman Brandon Triche finished with 16 points, as fifth-ranked Syracuse withstood a furious West Virginia rally to take a 72-71 victory over the 10th-ranked Mountaineers at WVU Coliseum.

Saturday's game was the first in Coliseum history in which both West Virginia and its opponent were ranked in the top 10, and it provided a tense finish befitting the rankings.

It seems like every game features a new hero for the Orange and this it was freshman Brandon Triche, acquitting himself and proving himself worthy as the floor-leader of SU's attack.  After a rough start (3 turnovers first 5 minutes), Triche settled in and eventually iced the game for the Orange.

He finished with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He collected a team-high five assists. And he made two critical free throws in a frenetic final minute of play.

"He played like he’s capable of playing," SU guard Andy Rautins said. "That doesn’t surprise anybody in this locker room. Like we’ve said: someone different steps up for us every game. And it was Brandon tonight."

"He grew up today," SU center Arinze Onuaku said. ".  We said ‘Make a play’ and that’s what he did."

Our boys all growns up. 

Flu-y Wes Johnson and Kris Joseph both scored 13 and Andy Rautins scored 12 points and added seven rebounds before fouling out on a bad foul late in the 2nd half.    Rick Jackson might not have looked like he had a big game on the stat sheet but Brent Axe likes the effort and little things RickJack provided:

I've been dogging Rick Jackson pretty hard lately, but I liked how he battled for an 8-point, 10 rebound effort in this game. Half of those boards were on the offensive side and led to some key possessions for Syracuse. He and Arinze were also much better on the defensive end than in the Rutgers game. No easy ones inside for 6-foot guys inside this time around, right Boeheim?

Just as there's a new hero each week, there seems to be a new goat as well.  It's Scoop Jardine's turn.  Axe, take it away...

First and foremost...the foul. There is no way around this. What a dumb, dumb foul he had with 6.5 seconds left. Moments after Jim Boeheim yelled at his team not to foul, Scoop chased a Darryl Bryant three point shot...and sent him right to the free throw line, where Bryant made all three free throws to cut the lead down to 71-68 and send blood pressures a bit higher all around Orange Nation. Scoop, an 81% free throw shooter, also didn't do anyone any favors by going 1-2 from the free throw line down the stretch. Funny how he ended up with the game clinching 72nd point of the game, because he couldn't seem to finish anything all day.

Maybe they weren't all his fault, but he still ended up with three offensive fouls on the day to add to his "what were you thinking" foul late in the game. All four of his fouls in this one hurt. 

The Orange did show a measure of growth, learning from early mistakes and adjusting to the awful refereeing taking place ('s a Big East game...let the kids play).   And as much Kris Joseph's missed 2nd free throw with seconds left on the clock looked terrible, it was exactly what Jim Boeheim wanted.  Of course, it's coincidental that it worked out that way.

Joseph missed the second free throw, but not because he wanted to. A 70 percent free throw shooter, Joseph tried to make it and missed.

"I couldn’t get his attention,’’ Boeheim said. "I wanted to miss the foul shot. That was the right play. Fortunately, he just missed it.’’

West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler grabbed the rebound, but only had time to heave the ball from 80 feet away. His try fell short.

Links and videos after the jump...

  • The Orange came to West Virginia, it saw West Virginia and, yes, it conquered West Virginia...Bud Poliquin
  • Gut Check...Cuse Country
  • MOUNTAIN PASS: Orange survives defensive bout in tight victory over No. 10 West Virginia...Daily Orange
  • The Coal Mine Rescue...Orange Fizz
  • Syracuse vs. West Virginia Highlights...ESPN

Mike Waters recaps the game from the airport.

Mike Waters video report's Gary Orr has the recap from Morgantown. 

. YMCA guy enterains the student section! #5 Syracuse at #9 West Virginia YMCA dance!   They're laughing WITH him...honest...right?