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Syracuse point guards continue stellar play against lesser competition

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John Gillon and Frank Howard continued their dominance against those they should be dominating.

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Michigan at Syracuse
Syracuse guard John Gillon drives to the basket in the second half against Eastern Michigan.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

One of the concerns for Syracuse Orange basketball this season has been the consistency of the point guard play. Graduate transfer John Gillon and sophomore Frank Howard have been both brilliant as well as lousy at times this season. In Monday’s 105-57 victory over Eastern Michigan, they were the former.

Howard recorded his third double-double of the season against EMU. He scored 10 points and dished out 11 assists, but also committed four turnovers. John Gillon added 14 points, nine assists and had just one turnover.

So far in the 2016-17 campaign, the two Syracuse point guards have carved up non-major conference teams. However, it’s quite the opposite against teams in the Power Five, Big East and American Athletic Conference.

Syracuse has played four major conference (P5, Big East, AAC) opponents, and seven non-major opponents this season.

Here’s the breakdown of the point guard numbers:

vs. major schools: 50 points, 23 assists, 18 turnovers, 11 rebounds and 16 steals.

vs. non-major schools: 146 points, 98 assists, 22 turnovers, 37 rebounds, 30 steals.

Averages per game:

vs. major schools: 12.5 points, 5.8 assists, 4.5 turnovers, 2.8 rebounds and 4 steals per game.

vs. non-major schools: 20.9 points, 14 assists, 3.1 turnovers, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game.

NCAA Basketball: Connecticut vs Syracuse
Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim talks to point guard Frank Howard during the second half against UConn at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said after SU’s 78-71 loss to Georgetown that if the Orange doesn’t get better production from its guards, they simply won’t win many games this season.

The point guards have no trouble performing at an elite level against lesser opponents. But when the bright lights come on, the two simply haven’t shown up yet this season.

They’ll have a chance to improve those numbers against major conference teams on Wednesday when the Orange (7-4) host the St. John’s Red Storm (5-7) of the Big East. Since leaving the league it helped found back in 1979, SU has oddly struggled against its former rivals. They’re 2-5 since 2013-14, including five straight defeats to St. John’s, Georgetown and Villanova.