The play came just minutes after halftime. The Orange, coming off one of its best halves of basketball on the season, had just forced a turnover and Devendorf dribbled down the court to find Paul Harris streaking to the basket. With all eyes on Harris converting the easy layup, Devendorf came down and landed funny, buckling his knee. The instant pain was obvious, as Eric immediately crumpled towards the sideline and landed in the lap of assistant coach Mike Hopkins.
The worst fears of Syracuse fans were realized this afternoon, when the University issued a statement that Devendorf suffered a torn ACL and as such will miss the rest of the season. With the Orange having already played 1/3 rd of its regular season schedule, it is unlikely that Devo will be able to qualify for a medical redshirt from the NCAA.
The unfortunate injury overshadowed an otherwise impressive performance. SU hit on 12 three pointers before the break and finished with 15 in total, enough to break their Carrier Dome record and tie the team record set in West Virginia in 1997. They also shot an unbelievable 76% from the field, connected on 60% from beyond the arc, and handed out 31 team assists. Six players finished in double figures and Syracuse nearly doubled East Tennessee State in the rebound department (49 to 26).
The most amazing aspect of the game was that Syracuse managed to score 125 points despite turning the ball over 26 times. Unlike most mid-major teams that look to slow down the pace of the game in the Carrier Dome, ETSU came into the game with the goal of forcing an uptempo affair. SU was glad to oblige, saying "whatever you can do, we can do better".
Syracuse raced out to a 16-0 lead just 3:30 into the contest when Devendorf connected on a three-pointer. He would hit on four more deep shots before his injury, en route to 19 points and 5 assists in just 19 minutes of court time. There seems to be something so unfair to losing a player to injury in a game that he was completely dominating.
Unlike previous games this year when the Orange have had difficultly in playing with a lead, this game was a blowout from start to finish. The closest ETSU came was 11 points when an Andrew Reed layup made it 38-27. After that, the Orange closed the half on a devastating 30-11 run, raining three pointers and scoring at will in transition.
Donte Greene finished with 25 points and 8 rebounds, Jonny Flynn added 14 pts and 8 assists without missing a shot from the field, and Arinze Onuaku poured in 19 points on 9-9 shooting. One of the few negatives on the evening was his free throw shooting, as he once again struggled from the charity stripe (1-5 FT).
Player Capsules (by Daniel Langevin):
Paul Harris - He was accurate with his jumper, knocking down two midrange J's and a three. However he was sloppy with the ball and was responsible for a number of turnovers, including a couple of errant passes, a charge, and a palming violation. Harris is a great talent but he really needs to "tighten up" his game if he wants to reach his true potential.
Donte Greene - Baltimore's Finest was the guy who got things going, casually hitting trey after trey and getting after the boards. He displayed more inside game than usual, taking his smaller defender to the block, blocking shots, and grabbing rebounds. He was caught out of position a couple of times on defense and in one dumbfounding sequence he hit a three at the top of the key and then was caught napping on defense as the ball was thrown by his head for an uncontested lay-up.
Jonny Flynn - He was sound with the basketball and had a quality assist to turnover ratio. After getting the opening tip, Flynn found AO in the post for a monster slam. On the following possession he found Donte Green for a jumper. Later in the half he got his looks at three and buried them all, including a transition three and an offensive rebound kickout. Defensively his effort was decent, but most of the threes that were put up came from his defensive quadrant.
Arinze Onuaku - AO is a mountain. His inside presence was no match for the smaller East Tennessee defenders and he quickly asserted his dominance with six points in the Orange's 16-0 opening onslaught. Although he struggled from the line, he was perfect from the field and pulled in 5 rebounds. This game should build his confidence, which he will need when the time comes to face the big men of the Big East.
Eric Devendorf - He was lights out shooting, but he tried to do much on the break and turned the ball over a number of times with sloppy passes. It was ironic that one of his best passing plays led to his injury when he came down after making a pass to Harris for a lay-up. His knee buckled when he came down and you could see from the sidelines that he was in horrible pain as he was carried off the floor without taking another step.
Rick Jackson - When Rick substituted in for AO with 12:50 left in the half, the inside dominance continued. Similarly to AO, the dunk was his preferred shot. On defense he blocked a handful of shots. Boheim has to be happy with his six man's performance. He finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Scoop Jardine - Once again Scoop committed a number of turnovers and his defense was a little slow, but he also showed some point guard qualities, organizing the team en route to lay-ups and threes. He did have a nasty play where he went behind his back, faking out his defender and finishing with an easy lay-up. He set career highs with 8 points and 6 assists.
Kristof Ongenaet - This man is deceptively athletic. He almost threw down a Paul Harris alley oop where he soared to eleven foot, but he missed the dunk. On defense he was caught inside and some threes where hit in his corner. You have to like his constant effort and willingness to put his body on the line when it comes to diving for loose balls.
Justin Thomas - He made the typical walk-on mistake, turning the ball over one second after he stepped onto the court. When he had looks at the basket he never once pulled the trigger, but he is in the books for he scored the final Orange basket, slashing through traffic.
Mike Williams - Now that the football season is over it appears that Mike Williams has time to play basketball. He scored his seven points straight, hitting a three in between two athletic rim attacks. It is possible that he will see some minutes now that Devendorf is done for the season and Josh Wright is unavailable.