Sunday, February 20, 2011

Syracuse Overcomes Late Surge by Rutgers, Wins 84-80 in Overtime

With four games remaining in the Syracuse Orangemen regular season schedule, the most important thing for the Cuse to do is protect their home court down the stretch. That was in danger on Saturday afternoon as Syracuse hosted Rutgers in the Carrier Dome.

Tied 70-70 after regulation, you could not blamed if you had some concern heading into Overtime. Syracuse, who trailed 44-43 at halftime, was up 64-56 with 6:33 remaining in the ball game. From there, it was turnover after turnover and missed 3-pointer after missed 3-pointer for the Orangemen. We had all seen this script before.

Something about the last four or so minutes of each half is like kryptonite to Syracuse's offensive game plan. By the time there was 3:15 left on the game clock, Mike Poole knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Scarlet Knights a 66-64 lead to cap a 10-0 run by Rutgers.

C.J. Fair would bang home another layup with 2:19 left in the game to tie the score at 66, however Syracuse would not make another field goal the rest of the way. Rick Jackson had a couple opportunities to give the Orangemen the lead in the waning seconds of regulation, however he went 1/2 from the foul line to tie the score at 70 with 7 seconds left on the clock.

A missed James Beatty 3-point attempt as the clock expired and the 21-6 Orangemen were heading to overtime on their home court against the 13-12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

In overtime Kris Joseph knocked down a huge 3-pointer (he was 3 of 5 from behind the arc) that helped push Syracuse's lead to 4 points with just under three minutes remaining in the extra session. Rutgers answered back with a 3-pointer of their own (Scarlet Knights shot 9 of 23 from 3-point range, 39.1%), to cut the lead back to 1 point.

The Orangemen would make their foul shots down the stretch (except for Scoop Jardine who went 0-2 from the line with SU up by 4 with 44 seconds left) and were able to hold on for an 84-80 win.

Kris Joseph lead all scorers with 21 points and 8 rebounds, and Rick Jackson logged another double-double for the Cuse. Jackson finished with 18 points and 12 boards along with a ridiculous seven blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals.

C.J. Fair continued his hot play of late, playing 37 minutes and finishing with 17 points behind 6 of 8 shooting from the floor (5 of 6 from the foul line). Fair also grabbed 8 rebounds. Fab Melo played just 1 minute, picking up a foul within seconds of stepping on the floor, and did not see any action after that. It was his first action since sitting out the last two games due to missing practice following the loss to Georgetown on February 9th. Dion Waiters was also limited to 2 minutes of action.

Scoop Jardine, who broke out for 20 points against Louisville, had his second straight 9 point game, and shot 4 of 10 from the field. He was a very unpleasant 0-3 from the foul line, however. Brandon Triche, who has scored 20+ points his previous two games, finished with 17 points on 3 of 15 shooting from the floor.

Triche started out hot from the field, making his first two three point attempts, however he missed his next eight shots from beyond the arc. He was a perfect 9 for 9 from the foul line. He also pulled down 6 rebounds and had 4 assists for the Cuse.

Syracuse will travel to Philadelphia, PA on Monday (the home of Rick Jackson, Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters) to take on the now #14/15 Villanova Wildcats at 7PM on ESPN's Big Monday. Villanova also survived an overtime scare Saturday, defeating Big East basement Depaul 77-75 on the road.

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