Leading up to Thursday's game against Connecticut, all the talk was about the Big East rivalry being renewed. Well, it sure lived up to the hype.
Tyler Lydon is good. We all knew that, those who follow Syracuse basketball knew that, but the world didn't. Now, they're beginning to see what the hype was about.
Lydon, who played 35 minutes off the bench, scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He was ESPN's Player of the Game, which earned him an interview with Andy Katz after the game.
"He sees things that seniors don't see," coach Boeheim said after the game. "Nothing bothers the kid. He's had two monstrous games down here."
Through the two games, Lydon is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in just over 30 minutes per game.
Senior guards Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije stepped up down the stretch, each finishing with 17 points. "It was a lot of fun. Both teams were getting up and down at the end, making plays and scoring baskets. Those are the games you want to play in," Cooney said after the game.
"Personally, for me, this was my first time playing against UConn. It was nice to see the rivalry and nice to come up with a win in this competitive environment," Gbinije said. The fifth-year senior continued to show why he deserves national recognition. He also had 7 assists and 6 steals.
Junior Tyler Roberson continued his impressive play, scoring 14 points and corralling 9 rebounds, including five offensive boards. He played a majority of the second half with three fouls, which, surprisingly, didn't affect his defensive intensity.
"I thought he was really good. I mean, he did a lot of things today. That blocked shot he made on Miller, that was a huge block. I mean, I didn't even see him coming. I don't know how he got there. He was active," Boeheim said.
"Both Tyler's are going to get opporutnities in those situations and these guys (Cooney and Gbinije) will find them. They've got to make finishing players out there."
After committing two fouls in the first half, freshman Malachi Richardson was limited to thirteen minutes. He had three points at the break.
In the second half, Richardson came out aggressive and full of confidence, something he hasn't lacked all year. "I'm a confident basketball player," he told me earlier this year. Well, it showed in the second half as he continued to take tough shots, and make them.
Malachi had 10 second-half points on 3-of-5 shooting. He finished the game with six rebounds, which is beginning to become the norm.
"I thought Malachi really struggled, but then he just got himself going. He made a couple big shots," Boeheim told the media after the game.
After Tyler Roberson and Malachi Richardson found themselves in foul trouble early in the first half, Syracuse looked to Dajuan Coleman for minutes, and he delivered.
Despite only playing nine minutes, they were timely minutes. He finished with 2 points and 8 rebounds. Every rebound mattered against the Huskies, and Coleman's intensity fueled an all-around dominance on the glass.
The Orange out-rebounded UConn 40-33, which was a major factor in the victory.
With the win, Syracuse improved to 5-0. They face Texas A&M at 3:00pm on Friday in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship. The game will be televised on ESPN.