C.J. Fair came to play for Syracuse in a game the Orange needed to stay in the hunt for the ACC regular season crown. The senior forward stepped as the leader in a close victory at Maryland on Monday night.
Fair finished with 17 points and nine rebounds on 8-17 shooting. But more than that, he showed signs of returning to the C.J. Fair that Syracuse fans had grown to love over his four years on the hill.
He hit the mid-range jumper with regularity, took his defender off the dribble and hit critical shots down the stretch.
That jumper is what has been missing from his game for weeks, and looked as good as it has all season against Maryland. Fair hit shots in the lane off of spin moves, finished at the rim, and hit one of the most difficult shots of the game late in the second half.
Maryland had just trimmed the lead to four with 3:41 left to play. Fair, with the shot clock winding down, caught the ball in the corner. He took one jab-step off the dribble with Dez Wells guarding him close. Fair stepped back beyond the three-point line and pulled up for the shit with Wells hand in his face.
Fair's three fell through the bottom of the net, pushing the Syracuse lead back to seven. The Orange would need every single point Fair gave them, as they held on to win by just two.
As Syracuse looks to finish strong down the stretch of the regular season, Fair's play will be critical. He had more energy than he has had since the first matchup with Duke. His footwork was excellent and decision making was strong as he let the game come to him.
Fair will need that same type of performance Saturday against Virginia with the ACC regular season title on the line.