Needing More from the Inside

Baye Keita will need to step up as the options inside for the Orange have become slimmer.

With the loss of freshman DaJuan Coleman, junior Baye Keita becomes all the more important at the center position for the Syracuse Orange men's basketball team.

Foul trouble took Keita out of the last game versus the Villanova Wildcats, something that he cannot afford without Coleman on the bench.

"That was kinda hard," said Keita. "At the end of the game, they needed us in there. We got three people in foul trouble, so I think that was kinda tough, dealing with that."

With 4:06 left in regulation, Keita sat down in the Wells Fargo Center to watch the Orange take on the Wildcats after his fifth foul. "That was really tough, seeing that we were up by six and we went to overtime," Keita shared. "They made two big threes, two big shots. So I think that was kinda painful but just focus on the next game."

As far as what Villanova did right against the Orange, "They were physical," Keita expressed. "But we were there every single play, have a presence in every single play. There was tough calls on both ends, so I think [that] was probably what hurt us at the end."

Keita fouling out for the next few weeks leaves Syracuse without a center.

On the defensive end, where his play tends to lean toward, Keita has blocked 23 shots and grabbed 42 rebounds.

Offensively, Keita has come close to his defensive performance on the boards, attaining 36 rebounds.

As far as scoring, Keita has shown better hands and helped provide some high-percentage makes as well as second-chance opportunities. However, he has only scored in double-figures twice out of 20 contests. Keita has not reached double-figures in any of Syracuse's seven matches inside the Big East Conference.

But, with senior forward James Southerland already out, there are points that someone needs to claim for the Orange moving forward.

Keita offered his opinion or whether or not the loss of Southerland is felt more when foul trouble has arisen for the Orange. "Yeah, a little bit," said Keita. "But I think Jerami [Grant] did a great job stepping up and play the same role. We coulda had James [Southerland] and still face the same problem. That's just one of the guys we're gonna miss. So I think Jerami [is] stepping up pretty good."

Grant was also in foul trouble versus Villanova, having to come out before Keita, so Keita must make smart choices moving ahead as well as Grant as both have no one in front of them in the team's upcoming contests.

The Orange will head back to the road to face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday, February 2nd, at Noon ET.

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