I was watching the Syracuse Orange - Rutgers Scarlet Knights game with @ShayColson and we were remarking about how messy the whole endeavor had been when he said, "this is like a really good high school game."
I thought that was perfect in describing Syracuse's 74-64 win over Rutgers on Sunday. A game full of messy miscues, strange mental decisions and a seemingly-unwavering desire to improve on any of them, all of which you would have excused if you were watching your local high school team instead of your Division 1 college basketball team that's ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Look, a win's a win and we should all consider ourselves so lucky as to watch a team that's now 27-1 overall and 14-1 in the Big East. But Jesus guys, do you have to make it look so ugly? (I checked, you don't)
C.J. Fair led the Orange with a career-high of 21 points. Fair also played more than anyone else in the Syracuse lineup and went 8-8 from the line. He's also scored double-digits in four of the last five games. We're witnessing the true emergence of Fair from a scoring standpoint (Marrone'd) and I can't help but think 'Thank God' to make up for the lack of scoring that seems to be coming from so many others.
And I can't not mention C.J.'s reverse alley-oop slam. Good lord the kid is a human highlight reel.
Scoop Jardine added 17 points, seven assists and about five "no, no, no, YES!" moments down the stretch to ice the win. Kris Joseph had 14 points and Fabricio Melo finished with 10 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Orange, who have won seven in a row.
Dion Waiters was all over the place, scoring seven but turning the ball over three times and drawing three fouls.After scoring in double-digits in nine-straight games, Waiters has only reached the mark twice in the last seven contests.
Rutgers outrebounded the Orange but the Scarlet Knights had a dreadful shooting night from the three-point arc (16.7 percent), which balanced things out.
Once again the final score acts to distance the Orange from just how close this game really was. They seem to be building up a tendency to play extremely close games only to pull away in the end no matter the quality of the opponent. Whether they play down to their competition is up for discussion, but it's evident that the Orange continue to have big problems in the paint and a severe case of Flatfooted Rebounding Attempts. I lost track of how many times I saw a Rutgers player run to the basket on a shot while everyone in orange stood there waiting for the ball to come to them (except Fab, who seems more agile than the guards at times).
I'm very curious about this upcoming South Florida game. The Bulls are no pushover this year and the Orange continue to show a lot of character and heart but only after they've spent a good portion of the game showing a lot of flaws. It could get them into serious trouble one of these days. On one hand, this was a Big East road game and you always just want to survive and advance. On the other hand, Rutgers is 12-15 and our team is full of All-Big East talent.
And now is the time on Sprockets when Jim Burr dances.