Rutgers Banks One In
Lamizana bank-shot three-pointer knocks off #24 Syracuse, 68-65
It appeared early in the second half, first as a small glow than as a full solar flare. It emanated from the Rutgers bench during a timeout called by Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. It has been missing since November, and Rutgers fans hope that its sighting last night won't be the last.
Jerome Coleman was smiling.
Not a shy, pensive smile, the kind reserved for first dates and job interviews. This one was a full moon, an ear-to-ear grin instigated by a devastating barrage of three-pointers, the last one from somewhere between the three-point line and Metlars Lane.
Watch out Big East. It appears that Jerome Coleman has shot his way out of the slump.
The senior shooting guard connected on five three-pointers and dropped 30 points on the #24 Orangemen last night and Herve Lamizana played the late hero with a late bank-shot three-pointer, as Rutgers defeated Syracuse 68-65 in Big East Conference play. In doing so, they stopped a red-hot opponent that had won 12 of its last 13 games. It also threw cold water on 6-8 freshman All-Everything forward Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 17 points but was frustrated most of the evening.
The defensive tenacity that was missing in action so far this year returned Wednesday night at the RAC, keyed by junior guard Mike Sherrod, who smothered Anthony in the first half in limiting him to only four points. Rutgers again demonstrated that the best way for them to win is to create an atmosphere of controlled chaos. While this may not lend itself to a very effective and methodical half-court offense, that's just the way it's going to be for this team, and last night was a perfect example.
Rutgers came out in an aggressive man-to-man defense and forced Syracuse into three traveling violations and an offensive foul in the first 4 minutes. By the end of those four minutes, Rutgers had tallied all of three points. Syracuse had managed none. Score: Rutgers 3, Syracuse 0. Both offenses appeared to be in pain, Syracuse because it had wandered into the teeth of Rutgers' withering man-to-man defense, Rutgers because it needed binoculars to see over the top of the Orangemen's 2-3 zone defense, which held them to a paltry 2-11 from behind the arc in the first half.
The Knights did, however, make a concerted effort to work the ball into the belly of the Syracuse zone to lanky forward Herve Lamizana, which yielded some early success and would have paid larger dividends if Lamizana had shot better than his 5-16. But some of that poor performance has to be credited to Syracuse. Neither team cracked double figures in scoring until Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick put them on top 11-8 with 9:54 remaining in the first half. Rutgers missed eight straight shots during this stretch, before Juel Wiggan hit a running jumper to pull the game to 11-10 in favor of the Orangemen. Rutgers got the better of the turnover battle, forcing Syracuse into 12 turnovers in the first half to the Knights' 5 turnovers, but shot only 26% to Syracuse's 46%.
Rutgers shot much more effectively in the second half. One key sequence came four minutes into the second half with RU trailing 33-31. Shields, seemingly tired of dancing around the Syracuse zone defense all night, hoisted and buried a three from the top of the arc to put the Knights on top 34-33. Lamizana blocked a Hakim Warrick jumper at the other end, triggering a fast break that Coleman finished on his own, laying the ball in and drawing a foul on Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara. Coleman missed the foul shot but Rutgers had moved on top 36-33. Coleman then buried another three to cap an 8-0 run. After a Syracuse basket, Coleman drained another trey to put RU up 42-35. Syracuse followed with a miss and Coleman, a good eight feet outside the three-point stripe, ripped a third three-pointer to put Rutgers up 45-35 and spark an electrical